John Maxwell Coetzee
John Maxwell Coetzee was born in Cape Town, South Africa, on 9 February 1940, the elder of two children. His mother was a primary school teacher. His father was trained as an attorney, but practised as such only intermittently; during the years 1941–45 he served with the South African forces in North Africa and Italy. Though Coetzee’s parents were not of British descent, the language spoken at home was English.
J.M. Coetzee received his primary schooling in Cape Town and in the nearby town of Worcester. For his secondary education, he attended a school in Cape Town run by a Catholic order, the Marist Brothers. He matriculated in 1956.
Coetzee entered the University of Cape Town in 1957, and in 1960 and 1961 graduated successively with honours degrees in English and mathematics. He spent the years 1962–65 in England, working as a computer programmer while doing research for a thesis on the English novelist Ford Madox Ford.
In 1963 he married Philippa Jubber (1939–1991). They had two children, Nicolas (1966–1989) and Gisela (b. 1968).
In 1965 Coetzee entered the graduate school of the University of Texas at Austin, and in 1968 graduated with a PhD in English, linguistics, and Germanic languages. His doctoral dissertation was on the early fiction of Samuel Beckett.