The history of a South African University

Volume 1
Natal University College (1909-1949)

Prof. Bill Guest

Dust jacket front cover illustrations based on a photograph of Howard College campus in the archives of the University
f KwaZulu-Natal and a photograph of Old Main Building, Pietermaritzburg campus, taken by Jack Frost in 1955.

Occasional Publications imprint
The Natal Society Foundation.

This is the first of a three-volume history by Bill Guest of a major South African university founded as the Natal University College in Pietermaritzburg in 1909. Despite trying conditions, including two world wars, the university expanded, developed a second campus (Howard College) in Durban and became the University of Natal in 1949.

This volume covers the Natal University College years from 1909 to 1949. It looks at the personalities, events and significant milestones in the early history of the university’s two city campuses that helped shape its future role as one of the country’s leading universities.

The author draws extensively on the university archives of publications, reports, documents, reminiscences and minutes of meetings, recalling both the serious as well as the lighter side of campus life.  An appendix lists all those who received degrees, diplomas and certificates from Natal University College before 1948.

Volume two, to be published during 2016, will deal with the period from 1949 until 1976 during which the university struggled to maintain its autonomy in the face of interference from the apartheid government.

Volume three will focus on the tumultuous years from 1977 to 2003 in which many of the university’s staff and students became embroiled in the resistance to apartheid and then had to engage with the consequences once the country had achieved political freedom in 1994.

Photograph by Cynthia Guest

The author, Bill Guest, is professor emeritus and senior research associate in Historical Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Most of his academic career, starting as a student in 1959, was spent at the university where he also did his Honours, Masters and doctoral degrees.

He began his academic studies at Howard College where he also lectured before taking up a post as senior lecturer on the Pietermaritzburg campus in 1977.  There he later became associate professor, professor and senior professor. 
He has published a variety of articles and has authored, co-authored and co-edited a dozen books on South African history, focusing primarily on the Natal-Zululand region.


Book details:

  Natal Society Foundation
Publication date:
   5 December 2015
  Hard-cover with dust jacket, thread-sewn, round back, with blue and white head-bands
  391 pp, illustrated with photographs and complete list of graduates from inception to 1949
  18 × 24.5 × 3.5 cm
Selling price:



  Christopher Merrett
Assistant editors:
  Peter Croeser and Phila Mfundo Msimang
  Cynthia and Bill Guest

Printed in South Africa by CPW Printers Pietermaritzburg

You can download the entire book (a 3.5 Megabyte PDF file) free of charge here: