Peter Snyders profile

Peter Snyders (born 14 November 1939) is a South African writer. He is best known for his collection ‘n Ordinary Mens. His works are widely read and discussed.

Peter Snyders
Peter Snyders biography
Peter Snyders learned Afrikaans, English, Dutch, German, Xhosa, and Khoi.
Short Profile
Full name:Peter James Snyders
Born:14 November 1939 (age 83 years old)
Place of birth:Wynberg, Cape Town, Western Cape
Nationality:South African
Education:University of South Africa
University of the Western Cape
Known work:‘n Ordinary Mens
Languages:Cape, Afrikaans, English, Dutch, German, Xhosa, Khoi

Early Life

Peter James Snyders was born on 14 November 1939 in Wynberg, a southern suburb of Cape Town in Western Cape. His father worked as a wood machinist while his mother as a homemaker.

Snyders grew up in Wynberg and Athlone. He started to write in school because they received a piece of cake as a reward if they recited and performed something. The cake motivated him to be creative.

To receive payment for letters from a newspaper, Peter wrote letters. His first story got published at sixteen. He started writing in English at first until he began to write about the people he knows and write as they speak. 


Peter attended and matriculated at Spes Bona High School in Athlone. He passed well and earned a scholarship to the University of Cape Town. He turned it down to go to work to support his family’s income.

The writer started to do office work. He worked for around four to five years. He studied part-time B.Sc. Chemistry at the University of South Africa.

Peter Snyders did not finish his studies but re-enrolled at Unisa. He completed courses in English, Afrikaans-Dutch, and Music History. He holds a BA degree from the University of the Western Cape, majoring in Chemistry, Literature, and Linguistics.

In 2002, he began his studies for an M.A. degree in Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town. He also studied music with Merton Barrow.


While doing a part-time B.Sc. at the University of South Africa, Peter worked as a Senior Technical Chemist at Mondi Board Mills. He was an Ink development and Quality Control Technician at Coates Brothers.

Peter worked as Assistant Production Manager at George Warman (Technical) Publications. He was the Senior Appraiser at API (now Nampak). He was a senior chemist, quality control manager, and production line manager at Chemserve Metal Sciences.

Snyders runs a regular column – Headers (Kopstukke) – for Die Burger. His primary language is Cape. He also learned Afrikaans, English, Dutch, German, Xhosa, and Khoi.

Apart from writing, the talented personality is a composer. He writes songs in English and Afrikaans. He translates them into Dutch. Some of his hit songs have become an anthem. 

The writer reached three spots in the top twenty with the songs he entered for the international Durban Song Festival in 1970. His recordings got released on music records in 1966 and 1976.

When he is not composing, Peter is active in communities on Cape Plains by training amateur actors. He was a member of the Belhar Amateur Drama Association. He founded the Unison Players in 1975, a group that performs many of his dramas.

Peter is a member of the South African Academy of Science and Art. He is a member of the Afrikaans Writers Association. He is also a member of the South African Screenwriters Association and the ANV Association for Language and Culture.

Snyders performs at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn. He reads some of his poems at the Word Festival in Stellenbosch. 

The writer delivered an on Capes at the third Black African Writers’ Symposium at the University of the Western Cape in 2003. He started performing on the Cape Flats. 

He performed in people’s homes to get more reach. People who did not have the opportunity of going to the stage benefited.

Peter then performed at art festivals. He has also performed in Nico Malan, Baxter Theatre, People’s Space, the Joseph Stone, the Breughel, and Artscape. 

Political Joke, an adaptation of Elke ou storie, was his first published drama. It got shortlisted for the award of the Presskor Prize in 1986. He writes dramas in English Languages too. 

Baxter Theater in Cape Town saw the performance of his drama Violations in 1985. Peter co-authored The Final Sting of the dying wasp.


Snyders entered his poem Strandfontein for the My Poem competition in 1976. He received an honorable mention for his effort. The writer recited his poem on the awards night.

Peter read five poems at the Afrikaans Writers Guild summit in Gordons Bay in 1977. He expresses in Capes the injustice, unfairness, and hardship faced during to apartheid regime.

An Ordinary Men (‘n Ordinary mens) is his debut collection of poems. He published a short story collection, Brunch for Two (Brunch vir twee), with Clinton du Plessis.


Share to others: