Bessie Amelia Emery Head, known as Bessie Head (6 July 1937 – 17 April 1986), was a South African writer who, though born in South Africa, is usually considered Botswana's most influential writer. She wrote novels, short fiction and autobiographical works that are infused with spiritual questioning and reflection.
Bessie Amelia Emery was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, the child of a "white" woman and a "non-white" man at a time when interracial relationships were illegal in South Africa. Bessie's mother, Bessie Amelia Emery, from the wealthy South African Birch family had been hospitalised for several years in mental hospitals following the death of her first child, a boy. She was in the huge mental hospital in Pietermaritzburg when she gave birth to Bessie. Although she was not allowed to keep the child, she did give the daughter her own name.