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Millin, Sarah Gertrude


MILLIN, SARAH GERTRUDE (born Liebson ; 1889–1968), South African novelist. Born in Lithuania, she grew up near Kimberley and married Philip *Millin. After publishing several novels, she made her name with God's Step-Children (1924), a story of the colored people of Cape Province. None of her subsequent novels had the same popular impact, though at least one of them, Mary Glenn (1925), a rural tragedy, showed great power of projecting atmosphere and passion. Turning to biography, she published a life of Cecil Rhodes (1933) and General Smuts (2 vols., 1936). A prolific writer on South African and world affairs, Sarah Gertrude Millin produced among other works short stories of South Africa, and during World War ii she wrote her war diaries in six volumes (published 1944–48), in which she devoted much attention to Palestine. Returning to fiction, she broadened her scope in King of the Bastards (1949) and The Burning Man (1952). She wrote two volumes of autobiography, The Night is Long (1941) and The Measure of My Days (1955).

Sarah Gertrude Millin's style was terse and her objectivity in fiction carried to the point where it often seemed that she disliked the people she wrote about. In her later years she often expressed conservative and controversial views on South Africa's race relations and color policies (apartheid). In 1966 she edited and contributed to a volume of essays, White Africans are Also People, in defense of Rhodesia and South Africa. Sarah Gertrude Millin, although interested in Jewish affairs, took no part in Jewish life. She occasionally introduced Jews in her stories, as in The Coming of the Lord (1928).

add. bibliography:

M. Rubin, Sarah Gertrude Millin: A South African Life (1977).

[Lewis Sowden]

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