Back to museum page               Bessie Head home               Excerpts from letters (PDF)

The Bessie Head Room, Khama Memorial Museum

Bessie Head herself enthusiastically greeted the opening of the Serowe Museum in 1985. The building shown here was originally a guest house built by Khama the Great — one of Bessie's heroes — and later donated by his descendants to the new museum. A nearby building houses both the Khama Papers and the Bessie Head Papers.
This corner of the Bessie Head Room re-creates the little work space where Bessie wrote A Question of Power and all her subsequent books and stories. Workbooks, references, and works by other authors filled the bookshelves. The typewriter shown below was on the writing table.
Bessie, photographed by Sandy Grant in 1978. She had recently returned from a successful 6-month writing program in the United States. This marked her first international tour, the first of many to conferences and workshops overseas.
Left: Pictures from Bessie's childhood in Pietermaritzburg and student days in Durban. The official paper says "Natal Teachers' Senior Certificate". Right: a case displaying her awards, an original manuscript, and some editions of her works.
Great photos of daily life. In Francistown she lived in a two room house and wrote by candlelight — but here she also was given her first typewriter. The Serowe photos show her at home, i.e. with her house, garden, the van Rensburgs, and her beloved dog Pa. She grew distinctly heavier with age.
This is the beautiful little reading room where scholars interested in Bessie Head can read her letters and other documents. Gillian Eilersen, her biographer, set a record by working here for 7 consecutive weeks.
Bessie had either two or three portable typewriters over the years. This one, her last, is a Silver-Reed. It and several thouand documents were collected from her house the day after she died by the alert Museum curator, Maria Rytter.

     Back to museum page               Bessie Head home               Excerpts from letters (PDF)