The usage of the word culture has at times one meaning for one individual and another quite different interpretation for another person, sometimes even causing raised blood counts. Then one learns/reads about a human being who simply was a walking example of what culture is all about. No pretensions but who in a lifetime elevated the meaning to various heights and levels. Such a person was Christian Louis Leipoldt.
Leipoldt was born in 1880 in Worcester from a missionary background and died in 1947 in Cape Town. At home he learned the lesson of always keeping a clean kitchen when cooking, learnt to cook himself and also details of some of the Malay recipes from a family employee. After finishing school he began writing for various newspapers: the Cape Argus, the Cape Illustrated Magazine, and the South African News including the Afrikaans newspaper Het Dagblad. During the South African War 1899-1902 he also reported for British, Dutch and Belgium newspapers. After the war journalism took him to Russia and Turkey. His cultural interests continued to widen including an interest in botany, different cookery skills, the usage of herbs, different wines and a continuous growing book collection.
Then in 1902 he enrolled as a medical student at Guys Hospital, London qualifying in 1907 having received gold medals for both medicine and surgery. He worked as a houseman for a time then moved to Berlin to study orthopedics, then to Vienna to study children’s diseases. In 1909 he worked as a medical attendant for the millionaire newspaper owner, Joseph Pulitzer. In the same year he completed the Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) exam. He continued working in hospitals in London then set about further travelling.
Over time and back in South Africa he became in 1915 the medical inspector of schools, later resigning becoming once more deeply involved in writing. In 1924 he stood for Wonderboom as a candidate for the South African Party but was defeated. In 1926 he became a part time lecturer in the medical faculty of the University of Cape Town. He would also become the first editor of the South African Medical Journal.
By the end of his life on 12 April 1947 he who had been able to read in English, Dutch/Afrikaans and German, had written short stories, poems, novels, autobiographies, plays, cookery books – Kos vir die Kenner, Leipoldt’s Cape Cookery – the latter was published after his death.
Other book titles are: Stormwrack, Bushveld Doctor, Die Heks, Gallows Gecko, The Valley, Dear Dr Bolus, 300 Years of Cape Wine.