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Marlene van Niekerk was born on 10 November 1954 on the farm Tygerhoek near Caledon. She attended school in Riviersonderend and Stellenbosch, where she matriculated from Hoërskool Bloemhof. She studied Languages and Philosophy at Stellenbosch University and obtained a MA. At university she wrote three plays for the lay theater. In 1979 she moved to Germany to join theaters in Stuttgart and Mainz as apprentice for directing. From 1980 to 1985 she continued her studies of philosophy in Holland and obtained a doctorate with a thesis on the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Paul Ricoeur. Back in South Africa she lectured in Philosophy at the University of Zululand, and later at Unisa. Afterward she was lecturer in Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of Witwatersrand. Marlene van Niekerk is now Professor at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, Stellenbosch University. Her books include two books of poetry, Sprokkelster and Groenstaar; a collection of short stories, Die vrou wat haar verkyker vergeet het; and the novels Triomf and Agaat.