In the 1950s Daphne Rooke was the most popular South African writer in America. This was largely as a result of the triumph of her second and most successful novel, Mittee, which was widely reviewed throughout the United States, where it became a bestseller. In February 1952 Time magazine noted the comparability of Rooke's themes with those of American writers: “The US South used to be the main source of the world's supply of fiction plots about the clash of white and Negro; in the last dozen years, South African writers have moved into the market. The latest is Transvaal born Daphne Rooke” (Anon. 1952a). The New York Herald Tribune Book Review in May 1952 listed Mittee in its top 15 bestsellers and a Cleveland reviewer that year compared her “heady novels of romance and suspense” with those of Daphne du Maurier (Anon. 1952b; O'Neill 1952). In the country of her birth, South Africa, however, Rooke's reception was not as enthusiastic. In a review for the Cape Times, Jack Cope (1952) opined:
We hear complimentary opinions from abroad that there is a flowering in South African writing. If so, Daphne Rooke adds nothing significant. She uses unconvincing stock figures of the lecherous Boer hungering after Coloured women, or the mean tannie; violence and treachery with little motivation. But if a best seller requires a liberal seasoning of assaults, rape, murder and sexual intercourse, there is no complaint against Mittee.
Ian Glenn (1987, 3) notes that early South African reviewers were generally “condescending and inaccurate”, and although an edition of Mittee published by Victor Gollancz in London circulated in South Africa from 1951, as J. M. Coetzee (1991, 205) observes, it was only in the late 1980s, when a South African edition of Mittee was published, that readers began to give credit to Rooke in her native land. While an interesting phenomenon in its own right, this discrepancy in reception is not my focus here. Rather, I would like to examine an inconsistency between two editions of Mittee—the edition that first circulated in America (Rooke 1952) and the edition that first circulated in South Africa (Rooke 1951b)—a difference that has not been examined in previously published criticism.