The Lovedale Press

The Lovedale Press dates back to 1823, when the founders of the Lovedale Mission brought in “a small Ruthven printing press with a supply of type, paper and ink” by wagon. By 1936 it had grown into an institution and was publishing novels by pioneering authors like Sol Plaatje and Prof AC Jordan. By 1953 it could print over half a million textbooks a year, but the effects of apartheid policy were being felt. Today, the Press has survived as an employee-owned company and still houses the beautifully unwieldy machines of a pre-digital era.

Early interior view of the printing press at Lovedale, circa 1890. The origins of the Press lay in missionary ideas of the value of literature in the Christian upliftment of the African soul. But in practice, it became a voice for a much more complex array of ideologies, including the vanguard of African liberation thought in South Africa. In addition to Soga, Plaatje and Jordan, the Press published works by many other significant black writers and thinkers including HIE Dhlomo, DDT Jabavu, JJR Jolobe, Victoria Swaartbooi, SEK Mqhayi, HM Ndawo, AZ Ngani and GB Sinxo. © The collections of the Parliament of South Africa