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Follow the literary trails of great writers

Bookworms and literature lovers can follow in the footsteps of KZN’s most famous authors by going on one of the literary trails being offered in the province.

KZN Literary Tourism has developed literary trails as a way of linking writers and their readers as tourists. Seven writers’ trails have been developed since the project’s launch.

Seven writers’ trails have been developed since the project’s foundation.

Lindy Stiebel, Professor of English Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the trails were, “a chance for people to appreciate their writers”.

Two of the trails have been operating for some time – the Grey Street Writers Trail is based in the inner-city of Durban while two others, the Cato Manor and INK (Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu) Writers Trails, are based in former townships.

Prominent and celebrated writers such as Alan Paton, Roy Campbell, Lewis Nkosi, Lauretta Ngcobo and Daphne Rooke are part of the project.

Paton was a creative writer, with a focus on politics and race in South Africa under the apartheid regime. He wrote two autobiographies: Towards the Mountain and Cry the Beloved Country. He is also famous for his poetry.

Nkosi began his writing career at the publication Ilanga lase Natal in Durban.

In 1956 he joined other African writers on the staff of the iconic Drum magazine whose staff he described in his book, Home and Exile and Other Selections (1965), as “the new African(s) cut adrift from the tribal reserve – urbanised, eager, fast-talking and brash”.

Prof Stiebel says they have chosen these authors because of the work that they have published.

“We have chosen the writers who are loved by the public and who have published their work in languages that are used in KZN.

“Some of the authors have been suggested by the readers,” Stiebel said.

He believes that the KZN Literary initiative will pave the way for similar literary tourism projects in other parts of South Africa.

The literary trails bring together two seemingly disparate disciplines – literature and tourism – to create a niche area which links writers, places and their works.

The project follows the route a fictional character charts in a novel, visiting particular settings from a story or tracking down places linked to a writer, such as a birthplace, home or burial site.

Literary tourists are specifically interested in how places have influenced writing and at the same time, how writing has created place.

In places like England, the interested reader/traveller can buy books on Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, Charles Dickens’s London and Shakespeare’s Stratford-on-Avon. This initiative gives readers the same opportunity in KwaZulu-Natal.

The project was started in 2002 as a five-year research project funded by the National Research Foundation.