South Africa in the 1930s was rife with racial inequality and political unrest. During this time, a young Jewish boy living in Cape Town was struggling to find his feet against a difficult family backdrop.

His story is now told by his Hampstead Garden Suburb-raised daughter, Barbara Bleiman, in her début published novel Off the Voortrekker Road.

“It is heavily inspired by my father, but also the story of apartheid hasn’t been told, and a lot of people do not know much about that – it is a very interesting period,“ says South Africa-born Barbara.

The mother-of-two entwines memoir and fiction, blending the styles together in a personal story set against the backdrop of a courtroom drama.

“It is quite a tricky thing to take somebody’s life and draw on it for a work of fiction,“ muses the 59-year-old.

Although her father, who died 21 years ago, will never read the novel, Barbara says her mother “absolutely loved it“ and reassured her she had served his memory well.

“My parents were South African and children of Jewish immigrants,“ she says. “I really wanted to do justice to him in the novel, but I also wanted it to be a novel. There are elements of my life and our family life, but with a lot of new bits too.“

Barbara moved to north London aged five, with her parents and older brother who was seven at the time.

The writer says the family moved “to nothing“, and remembers the trials of adjusting to their new life.

“We were literally living on the A1,“ says the former teacher. “It was a very different world. We didn’t know very many people. I can remember my brother’s first birthday here and we knew absolutely nobody, so I remember my parents baking a cake and the four of us went and sat in Big Wood.“

Since she was a child, Barbara has written fiction, penning her first novels aged just ten. After studying at The Henrietta Barnett School – where she was head girl – Barbara went on to study at Oxford University.

Although her busy schedule working as co-director of the English and Media Centre, a development centre for English and Media teaching in secondary schools, does not always leave her time to get stuck into her writing, she uses her holidays to write.

“We have a house in Northern France which has no broadband, it has a terrible signal for mobiles, we have no telephone and when we are there my husband gardens and I sit there and write,“ explains Barbara, who has been back to South Africa twice since leaving.

“I do write in London, but to be cut off and have no email is just terrific.“

She will read sections of her novel, which was rated number one on the Jewish Fiction and Jewish Literature Amazon Kindle lists, to audiences in Golders Green.

Barbara adds: “I love being able to share the writing with people. I have been a teacher so I have always enjoyed sharing literature with other people.“

Barbara Bleiman in Conversation with Sorrel Kerbel, London Jewish Cultural Centre, North End Road, Golders Green, Thursday, March 26, 8pm. Details: 020 8457 5000,