Books and other writings by Members of the Family
Over the past century, various members of the family have written a small number of books and pamphlets – in particular, biography, political memoirs, and political analysis, but also some novels. They are now out of print. You can see a full list of their books and pamphlets here. Where a particular publication is available on the Internet, there is a link.
Books about the Family
There is no book about the Molteno family generally. The nearest thing we have is Phillida Brooke Simons’ Apples of the Sun (Vlaeberg, Cape Town: privately published by Fernwood Books, 1999). As is clear from its sub-title – being an account of the lives, vision and achievements of the Molteno brothers, Edward Bartle Frere and Henry Anderson – the book is primarily the story of Ted and Harry Molteno and the huge apple-growing and export business they built up in Elgin in the first half of the 20th century. Commissioned by the Molteno Brothers Trust, it is a most readable, and beautifully illustrated, book. Phillida Brooke Simons was an excellent historian and writer. The first couple of chapters are the nearest thing we have in print to an account of the early history of the Molteno family at the Cape from the 1830s. The book is not commercially available, and copies can only be obtained by applying to the Trust in Elgin. But, as a result of the kind permission of the Molteno Brothers Trust, you can now look at and read the entire book on this website.
There is also a short, unillustrated biography of Donald Molteno Q.C. who was a grandson of Sir John Charles Molteno. He played a significant part in the anti-apartheid struggle from the 1930s through to the end of the 1960s. David Sher’s biography is entitled Donald Molteno – Dilizintaba, ‘‘He who removes mountains’ (Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations, 1979). This book is no longer in print, but as a result of the author’s kind permission, you can read it here on this website.
One book about the family never saw the light of day. Francis Hirst, a former editor of the Economist and friend of Percy Molteno, wrote a full-length biography of him. Percy had been Managing Director of the Union-Castle Line in London, a Liberal Member of Parliament (1906-1918), and was actively engaged in all sorts of political issues from the Boer War onwards. Hirst’s book includes valuable chapters on the Italian origins of the Molteno family as well as the history of the Jarvis and Currie families. The book reached proof stage, but the Second World War broke out and it was never published. Fortunately, the printer’s galley proofs survived and, as a result, it is now possible to read the entire book here on this website.
Another sad loss for our knowledge of the family is what happened to a project to write a comprehensive account of the whole family’s history. Kathleen Murray, one of the two remarkable daughters of Caroline Molteno and her husband Dr Charles Murray, commissioned the Chief Librarian of the University of Cape Town Library, Dr R. F. M. Immelman, to undertake the task in the 1950s. He did a lot of work, and wrote drafts of several sections, notably a 50-page long account of the life of Sir John Charles Molteno, and another about Sir John’s father-in-law, Hercules Jarvis, who had been the first Mayor of Cape Town, and a short account of the Molteno family’s early history, The Molteno Family: Italian Origins and English Roots. For reasons which are not clear, the book as a whole was never completed. But you can now see these draft writings on this website.
The complete Chronicle, published in 20 issues between 1913 and 1920, is now available on this website. Go to Chronicle of the Family to find out all about it. Or go to Table of Contents for Chronicle of the Family, where you can see it, issue by issue.