Marlene van Niekerk is an internationally-renowned writer and professor at the department of Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of Stellenbosch.
She studied Languages and Philosophy at Stellenbosch University and obtained a MA with the thesis: Die aard en belang van die literêre vormgewing in 'Also sprach Zarathustra' in 1978.
At university she wrote three plays for the lay theatre. In 1979 she moved to Germany to join theatres in Stuttgart and Mainz as apprentice for directing. From 1980 - 1985 she continued her studies of philosophy in Holland and obtained a Drs with a thesis on the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Paul Ricoeur: "Taal en mythe: een structuralistische en een hermeneutische benadering."
Back in South Africa she lectured in Philosophy at the University of Zululand, and later at Unisa. Afterwards she was lecturer in Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of Witwatersrand.
In 2007, she won the Hertzog Prize for Prose and C.L. Engelbrecht Prize for literature for her novel Agaat. Her 1994 novel Triomf, was made into an award-winning film in 2008.