Author, historian Dan Sleigh dies


The award-winning author and historian, dr. Dan Sleigh, passed away earlier today at the age of 85.

He died at his home in Pinelands, Cape Town.

Sleigh is known for his writing and publications such as his debut volume, Dove over waterand the novels Islands, Distances and Waltz with Matilda. He also wrote books with a historical focus such as Jan Company: The World of the United East India Company, also The Huguenots, Riders against the Empire and was co-author of The attack on the slave ship Mermaid, 1766.

Sleigh was an expert in the field of the VOC.

According to Hester Carstens, Sleigh’s publisher, Sleigh’s death is unthinkable.

“To have to give up Dan Sleigh is to lose a human gem of inestimable value. Being able to be in his presence was a blessing for everyone who experienced him. He will be terribly missed,” she says.

According to Tafelberg and NB Publishers, Sleigh won several awards for his literary work such as the South African Literary Award, South African Academy Medal for History and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Sleigh paved the way for many aspiring writers in South Africa,” his publishers say in a statement.

In 1966, Sleigh married Dewetia Hendriksz, an artist and art lecturer at the Cape Town Teachers’ College and Ruth Prowse Art Centre. They have a daughter together, Jean. Hendriksz died in 2006.

Sleigh was born in 1938 on Langebaan Lagoon on the West Coast. He obtained his doctorate in history at Stellenbosch University (SU) in 1987. In 2001 he won the Sanlam novel competition with Islandsfor which he also received several other prizes.

In 2015 was his novel 1795 the winner of NB Publishers’ Great Novel Contest. He was awarded the WA Hofmeyr Prize as well as the ATKV Prose Prize for this novel.