‘The thinking is done in London’: South Africa’s English Language Press and Imperialism

  • John Lambert
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media book series (PSHM)


In recent years the resurgence of interest in questions of identity in Britain and the former Dominions of the British Empire has had a marked effect on historiographical studies of what has come to be called the ‘British world’. In South Africa this has led to the appearance of a number of studies of British, or as they were known by the early twentieth century, English-speaking, South Africans.1 Although part of the same imperial diaspora that saw British settlers populate Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the experience of English-speaking South Africans differed markedly. Unlike their cousins in the Dominions, they were a minority within white society, which in turn was a minority within the wider society. This was to affect the way in which they viewed themselves, as both South Africans and as British. It was also to have a direct bearing on the way in which the English-language press developed in South Africa.


Cape Time National Party English Newspaper Daily Mail Mining Interest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    For a discussion of some of these works, see J. Lambert, ‘South African British? Or Dominion South Africans? The Evolution of an Identity in the 1910s and 1920s’, South African Historical Journal, 43 (November 2000): 197–222; and ‘An Identity Threatened: White English-Speaking South Africans, Britishness and Dominion South Africanism, 1934–1939’, Kleio, XXXVII (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    See J. A. Hobson, The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Effects (London: James Nisbet, 1900), p. 215; Dawie, 1946–1964: ‘n bloemlesing uit die geskrifte van Die Burger se politieke kommentator, saamgestel deur Louis Louw (Kaapstad, Tafelberg, 1965), p. 4, translation; The Star, 3 October 1960.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    These do, however, include useful introductions on the imperial period. See M. Broughton, Press and Politics of South Africa (Cape Town and Johannesburg: Purnell & Sons, 1961);Google Scholar
  4. W. A. Hachten and C. A. Giffard, The Press and Apartheid: Repression and Propaganda in South Africa (London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1984);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. E. Potter, The Press as Opposition: The Political Role of South African Newspapers (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1975).Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    See particularly S. Haw, Bearing Witness: The Natal Witness, 1846–1996 (Pietermaritzburg: The Natal Witness, 1996);Google Scholar
  7. J. Mervis, The Fourth Estate: A Newspaper Story (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 1989);Google Scholar
  8. G. Shaw, Some Beginnings: The Cape Times, 1876–1910 (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1975) and The Cape Times: An Informal History (Cape Town: David Philip, 1999); Today’s News Today: The Story of the Argus Company (Johannesburg: The Argus Printing & Publishing Co., 1956);Google Scholar
  9. T. Wilks, For the Love of Natal: The Life and Times of the Natal Mercury, 1852–1977 (Durban: Robinson, 1977).Google Scholar
  10. 5.
    See H. Flather, The Way of an Editor (Cape Town: Purnell, 1977);Google Scholar
  11. G. A. L. Green, An Editor Looks Back: South African and Other Memories, 1883–1946 (Cape Town and Johannesburg: Juta & Co., 1947);Google Scholar
  12. M. Green, Around and About: Memoirs of a South African Newspaperman (Cape Town: David Philip, 2004).Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    H. Giliomee, The Afrikaners: Biography of a People (Cape Town: Tafelberg, 2003), p. 196.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    An independent black press emerged m the 1880s reflecting the views of the new black petty bourgeoisie. This press tended to be politically moderate and pro-imperial, seeing the British Government as a protector of black interests. It was only from the 1930s that it became a militantly left-wing resistance press. See L. Switzer (ed.), South Africa’s Alternative Press: Voices of Protest and Resistance, 1880s–1960s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    G. Storey, Reuter’s Century, 1851–1951 (London: Max Parrish, 1951), passim.Google Scholar
  16. 21.
    C. F. Goodfellow, Great Britain and South African Confederation, 1870–1881 (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1966), passim.Google Scholar
  17. 23.
    For a discussion of Rhodes’s policies, see M. Tamarkin, Cecil Rhodes and the Cape Afrikaners: The Imperial Colossus and the Colonial Parish Pump (London: Frank Cass, 1996), passim.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    R. Hyam and P. Henshaw, The Lion and the Springbok: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 40;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. R. Davenport and C. Saunders, South Africa: A Modern History, fifth edition (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), p. 220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 26.
    G. Shaw, South African Telegraph versus Cape Times… (Cape Town, Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town, Communications no. 3, 1980), passim.Google Scholar
  21. 27.
    J. Lambert, ‘Sir John Robinson and Responsible Government, 1863–1897: The Making of the First Prime Minister of Natal’, MA diss., University of Natal, 1975, pp. 232–3.Google Scholar
  22. 36.
    A. N. Porter, The Origins of the South African War: Joseph Chamberlain and the Diplomacy of Imperialism, 1895–99 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1980), pp. 180, 181;Google Scholar
  23. D. Cammack, The Rand at War, 1899–1902: The Witwatersrand and the Anglo-Boer War (London: James Currey, 1990), pp. 17–18; Barlow, ‘The Clouded Face of Truth’, p. 109.Google Scholar
  24. 38.
    C. Dugmore, ‘From pro-Boer to Jingo: An Analysis of Small Town English-language Newspapers on the Rand before the Outbreak of War in 1899’, South African Historical Journal, 41 (November 1999): 262–5; Wilks, For the Love of Natal, p. 112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 39.
    F. J. Dormer, Vengeance as a Policy in Afrikanderland: A Plea for a New Departure (London, James Nisbet, 1901), p. 125.Google Scholar
  26. 42.
    A. G. Barlow, Almost in Confidence (Cape Town and Johannesburg: Juta, 1952), pp. 67, 83. The Friend returned to Barlow’s management in 1902.Google Scholar
  27. 43.
    Today’s News Today, pp. 135, 144–5; Shaw, The Cape Times, pp. 9–11; S. and B. Stent, The Forthright Man, ed. P. Cartwright (Cape Town: Howard Timmins, 1972), p. 79.Google Scholar
  28. 47.
    M. Fraser and A. Jeeves, All that Glittered: Selected Correspondence of Lionel Phillips, 1890–1924 (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 233; Shaw, The Cape Times, pp. 25–6.Google Scholar
  29. 51.
    See J. Lambert, ‘Britishness, South Africanism and the First World War’, in P. Buckner and D. Francis (eds.), Rediscovering the British World (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  30. 55.
    For a discussion of the press and the war, see J. Crwys-Williams, A Country at War, 1939–1945: The Mood of a Nation (Rivonia: Ashanti Publishing, 1992), passim.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Lambert 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Lambert

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations