Henri Louis Gonin was born in Stellenbosch, where his father was a teacher at Paul Roos Gymnasium. Henry studied Latin at Stellenbosch University (BA 1926, SOD 1934, both cum laude). With a Rhodes Bursary he continued his studies at Oxford (MA 1930). At Balliol College, he gained a "Blue" in athletics, specifically as a 440-yard runner. He obtained a DLitt at the University of Leiden. Title of the thesis: Excerpta agnelliana - The Ravennate liber pontificalis as a source for the History of Art. H L Gonin also studied Law at the University of Pretoria (LLB cum laude 1950)
He lectured in Latin at Stellenbosch University until 1938. He then moved to Pretoria University where he served for 34 years, until his retirement in 1971 and was professor of Latin and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He also worked part time as a solicitor until 1954.
His combined Latin and legal knowledge of Law and Latin enabled him to contribute to South African law. He published a translation of DG van der Keessel's Praelectiones in 5 volumes (1961 - 1967).
He was the author of the first Latin text book for Afrikaans speaking pupils up to matric.
Following his retirement, Gonin still served as acting head of the French Department of the University of Pretoria, helped the Randse Afrikaanse University, and was active at the Department of Classical languages, UNISA.
He was married to Olive; they had a daughter, Elisabet, and two sons, Charl and Pieter. H L Gonin died in Pretoria in 1997.
Founding member and some time chair of the SA Universities Sports Association.
Founding member of the Classical Society of South Africa (Chairman 1961-1962, Chief editor of Acta Classica)
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