Cicely Anne van Straten, née Luck, was born on 6 March 1947 in Fort Hare. She grew up in East and South Africa and the UK.
Here formative years were spent mostly in Kenya where her grandparents were
settler farmers, and in Uganda where her father was connected with Makerere
Her family's African roots as well her grandfather's anthropological researches in Kenya in the 1920's have given her a fascination with African folklore and mythology which is mirrored in her writing and her research. Her Master's dissertation, The Fairytale as paradigm of inner transformation: a comparative study of European and African tales (University of Pretoria 1996), is concerned with the rich folkloric culture of South Africa which has been lost to many of its children during a period of rapid cultural change.
From a young age Cecily was absorbed by fantasy writing and she acknowledges a debt to the works of the Grimms, Andrew Lang, George Mc Donals, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Roger Lancelyn Green, Padraic Colum and Roemary Sutcliffe and others. She would like to see emerge fantasy literature that is truly African in its setting for the children of Africa. She has contributed to seminars and conferences on topics, such as 'Black children need books'.
Cicely writes in English and many of her books are translated into other South African languages, including Afrikaans, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Tsonga, Venda and Zulu.
Cicely enjoys gardening, hiking and music. She was married to the Afrikaans author, Ampie van Straten, and has three sons. Cicely lives in Stellenbosch.
Fesito Goes to Market and
Kaninu's Secret have since been reissued in one volume as The great Snake of Kalungu, Juventus, Kagiso