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Google celebrates birthday anniversay of 1st black woman in SA to publish novel

Miriam Tlali was working as a bookkeeper at a furniture store in Johannesburg when she began writing her semi-autobiographical novel 'Muriel at Metropolitan' in 1969.

Google's Doodle of Miriam Tlali. Picture: Google.

JOHANNESBURG - Google has marked what would have been the birthday of Miriam Tlali, the first black woman in South Africa to publish a novel.

Tlali was born on 11 November 1933 in Doornfontein, Johannesburg and grew up in Sophiatown.

She studied at Wits University while black people were stilled allowed to attend the institution in the early days of apartheid. Tlali then moved to the National University of Lesotho.

She was working as a bookkeeper at a furniture store in Johannesburg when she began writing her semi-autobiographical novel Muriel at Metropolitan in 1969.

The book was not published for six years as publishers rejected it, until 1975 when Ravan Press finally published it only after certain extracts were removed from the book that the publishers thought would offend the Censorship Board which was in charge of censoring or banning material.

Muriel at Metropolitan was still banned almost immediately in South Africa after it was published. It was, however, picked up by an international publisher and distributed outside the country.

Tlali's work took her around the world where she gave lectures and speeches and was a visiting scholar at Yale University in the US.

She was bestowed with National Orders in Arts in 2008.

Tlali died on 24 February 2017.

Google's Doodle depicts Tlali reading a book.

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