Diederik (or Dirk) Johannes Opperman (1914–1985) was one of the best-known Afrikaans poets of the twentieth century. He was born on 29 September 1914 in Dundee in Natal, where he grew up. He went to school in the towns of Escourt and Vryheid, and afterwards received an M.A. degree from the University of Natal. He taught at schools in Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, and later on became editor of Die Huisgenoot. In 1949 he became a lecturer at the University of Cape Town. During this period he completed one of his most important publications - Digters van Dertig (Poets of the thirties) - in 1953.
From 1960 to 1975 he was a professor of Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University, where he also served on the editorial board of the publication Standpunte (Points of view). He died in 1985 in Stellenbosch.
He won the coveted Hertzog prize for poetry in 1947 for his collection Heilige beeste (Holy Cattle), his first novel published in 1945. He also wrote Negester oor Nineve (Nine star of Niniveh), Joernaal van Jorik (The Journal of Jorik), Engel uit die klip (Angel from the stone), Blom en baaierd (Flower and Chaos, or perhaps Flower and rubble), Dolosse (Knucklebones), Kuns-mis (Fertilizer), Edms. Bpk (Pty. Ltd), and Komas uit 'n Bamboesstok (Comas from a bamboo pole).
His three verse plays, Periandros van Korinthe (Periandros of Corinth), Vergelegen (A place name, lit. 'faraway') and Voelvry (Outlaw, lit. 'bird-free) appeared in 1954, 1956 and 1968.
His collected essays on literature were published as Wiggelstok (Divining rod), Naaldekoker (Dragonfly), and Verspreider opstelle (Spread-out esssays - the direct opposite of 'collected essays' in Afrikaans).
He won four Hertzog prizes (in 1947, 1956, 1969 and 1980), four Hofmeyer prizes (in 1954, 1956, 1966 and 1980), two CNA Prizes (in 1964 and 1980), a prize from the Drie-Eeue Stigting (Three Centuries Foundation) in 1956, the Louis Luyt prize in 1980 and the Gustav Preller prize for literary criticism in 1985.
The South African composer Cromwell Everson wrote music for some of Opperman's poems, such as "Kontraste" and "Nagstorm" oor die see.
C. M. van den Heever:
I. D. du Plessis:
W. E. G. Louw:
N. P. van Wyk Louw I:
N. P. van Wyk Louw II:
Ernst van Heerden:
S. J. Pretorius:
Heilge Beeste, 1945
Collaborator: Wêreldletterkunde, Die Skatkis
Anthologies:Groor verseboek and compilations (extended edition by A. Brinck, Tafelberg, 2000)