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Margaret von Klemperer PDF Print E-mail

Margaret von Klemperer (1948 - ) was born and educated in England, and came to South Africa when she married a South African. In her London days she worked for both a publisher and a literary agent.

For the whole of her South African life, she has lived in Pietermaritzburg. Once her children were at school, she studied at the then University of Natal as a mature student, receiving an Honours degree (cum laude) in English. She joined the staff of the Natal Witness as a reporter in 1990, working first on the education beat, and then was the Arts Editor for 16 years, retiring at the end of 2008 to see whether she could write a publishable book. She remained as the Books’ Editor on a part-time basis for the next six years. She has now retired from journalism, but not from writing or reviewing.

In 2012, her first novel, Just A Dead Man, was published (by Jacana Media). It is a light-hearted crime novel, set in Pietermaritzburg. The book touches on pertinent topics including xenophobia, racism and the manipulation of history to suit political agendas. Von Klemperer sees crime fiction as offering important insights into society while at the same time being entertaining – which is, after all, its main purpose. But it can hold up a fascinating and revealing mirror to the world in which it is set. The novel received positive reviews upon release. Janet van Eeden, writing for Litnet, praised the novel as a “delightful … light yet intelligent” read. In her ArtSmart review, Caroline Smart described von Klemperer as a “highly skilled writer who has the capacity to hit the nail on the head description-wise”.

Von Klemperer is married to Julian, a lawyer, and has two adult children and two grandchildren. When she isn’t reading or writing (which doesn’t leave much time), she enjoys theatre, yoga, walking her dog and cooking.

Selected Work

Excerpt from Just A Dead Man (2012:8):

"Laura. There's a body ... up there ... just beyond where the path goes off. Lying there."

"What? What do you mean 'a body'? A dead body? Who?"

"Of course a dead body! A man. I've no idea who he is. He's just lying there. Grumpy saw him first, went over to him, growling. I thought ... I went to look. He's dead all right. There was blood ... and ..." Daniel's voice trailed off and he swallowed. His face was grey under the coating of sweat. He dropped the dog lead and gripped the fence with both hands. "Oh Christ. I suppose ... I suppose he must have been murdered. His head was bashed in."

I put my hand on his arm and physically dragged him in through the gate, nudging the dog into the garden with my knee. I spun the combination on the padlock with a shaking hand, locking out whatever was out there. Even as I did it, I recognised the futility of the gesture. I unclipped Grumpy's lead and, still holding onto Daniel, probably for mutual support, headed back towards the house. We went in through the open studio door, which I shut and locked as well.


2012. Just A Dead Man. Johannesburg: Jacana Media.