Head, Bessie

(redirected from Bessie Amelia Emery)

Head, Bessie,

1937–86, South African writer. Born in South Africa to a white mother and black father, she was placed in foster homes and orphanages as a child. After 1964, she lived in exile in Botswana. Her candid writing voiced her strong concerns about racism, economic stagnation, and the status of women in her adopted country. Her novels include A Question of Power (1973), Maru (1971), and A Bewitched Crossroad: An African Saga (1984); a collection of stories, The Collector of Treasures (1977), and the acclaimed oral histories Serowe: The Village of the Rain Wind (1981).
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She stresses her mother's defiance of race laws and social policing of female sexuality, the punitive reprisal for her rebellion, and her enforced separation from her daughter.(4) She also claims her mother as the source of her own identity and the provider of resources for her entry into public life and the world of writing: "She asked that I be given her exact same name - Bessie Amelia Emery and that attention and care be paid to my education and that some of her money be set aside for my education" (B:KMM27 BHP119).