Baby Queen – De Groene Amsterdammer

Nelly Van Kool with her political husband Henry Van Kool, in the garden of their home in Forschoten, 1909

Sparnstad / ANP . Pictures

It caused quite a stir when socialist feminist and well-known children’s book author Nellie van Kohl (1851-1930) converted to Christianity in 1909. She withdrew from public life, but continued to write, albeit in a different way. You no longer need to save the world, as Helen Bakker wrote in her treatise on Van Kohl. People were now bad in her eyes instead of good, so it was only God’s job to make the world a better place. In her writings, since then she no longer has to raise people and children.

On the contrary, before her transformation she was constantly maternity. As a socialist, she defended the workers – that’s how she was founded our papers op, an affordable magazine for working-class children, and woman to their mothers. In the latter, she advocated for contraception and single mothers, among other things. She was also a great advocate of sexual education for preschool children. Only if mothers were honest about sex, about how children were born, and that mothers had to suffer for it, were she convinced, that would produce “good” children.

The extent of her love at that time is clear from a lengthy article in Dutch magazine dedicated to her. She is compared to Jeanne d’Arc, the “child queen of Holland” who “rules by divine grace over thousands of child souls”. Her children’s stories, rhymes, and fairy tales somehow have the same approach as Nienke van Hichtum: it must be human, it must be about nature, it must contain a brotherly vision. This is how I get while reading the collection of stories animal friends, I Borrow From a Neighbor – composed by Van Hechtom! In the story of squirrels, it is always a lesson to look at things from both sides. In another story about caged birds, I learned that if you love someone, you should set them free. If you compare her children’s stories to those of Van Hichtum, Van Kol’s letter comes to the fore, and they feel more childlike, less literary. Van Hechtom’s words have been described as somewhat stern and somewhat insincere, but more layered; Lots of conversations and small details go deeper into the story. Van Koll’s writing style is very different when written for adults, it is more modern and more intimate; Don’t be shy about using situations from her private life.

So the tabloids were surprised when she converted to Islam – she took back her contraceptive statements, by the way, the rest didn’t – but according to Packer, it wasn’t actually a break from her previous life. After an unpleasant childhood, Van Koel always looked for companionship, for happiness, often lonely, “empty of the heart” in her own words. Her research spirit brought her to the Dutch East Indies, where she published sketches of her life and travels under the pseudonym Nellie in Soerabaiasch Handelsblad, It became known under the title Letters to Minette† Van Koel hoped a loved one would resolve loneliness; This marriage would make her happy forever, but this happiness was unfortunately short-lived: soon after meeting her husband Henry van Kool (introducing her to socialism and later becoming a well-known leader of the party) she wrote: ‘Perhaps if something special’, if necessary , something bad happens, for example if I give Henry a son at almost the cost of my life, or if Henry falls in love with another woman and is treated badly by that woman, it will happen again. become obsolete. “.

But it never returned to normal: he was often away from home, and she gave up much of her own business to support him, even if it led to depression, they have four children (of which she lost two), and they have moved unimaginably. More often, to Indonesia, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. They remained married until her death, although he eventually moved in with another woman – another similarity to Nienke van Hichtum.

Most have survived, more than any other writer on the street signs in my neighborhood. For example, the Atria Archive, a cognitive institute for emancipation and women’s history, is full of material by and about van Kool, the Museum of Literature also contains old manuscripts of her, and the exchange of letters between her son and a bookseller is amazed that he still makes so much effort to preserve his mother’s work Alive, portrait drawings, a copied broadcast of a Puritan radio broadcaster on van Kohl, several newspaper articles cut out and pencil outline, exclamation marks in the margins, on somewhere small loose piece of paper with the text “Dedicated to the Museum of Dutch Literature”. Who wrote that, who has streaks, her son? itself? Many female writers were careful not to leave many of them behind, as they said in the podcast fix this, From the group of the same name trying to introduce more women to the literary canon – diaries were burned and letters were torn. This does not apply to Van Kol. It has been carefully distributed.

When Van Kohl resigned in 1909 from editing the magazine she founded woman She writes in a farewell letter that with her conversion she was reborn: “It is a transition from the natural to the spiritual, from mystery to solidity, from striving to seek, from darkness to light, from death to life.” I believe her, with pleasure, maybe even too much, I like people who think, the only amazing thing is that she seemed to have the same firmness before. when she joined socialism, for example, or entered into spirituality – many people at that time tried to contact spirits, for example, by spinning a bottle; Van Kohl was a fanatic and kept a diary of it, but when she was twice “connected” to a living person, she stopped. or when I found the answer in botanical; on motherhood (“I’d rather be a good unnoticed mother than a good famous writer”); She gave shape to the reform movement (in which women, for example, fought for comfortable clothes instead of tight corsets).

This supports Becker’s thesis: Van Koel previously wanted to improve the world. And she wanted one truth. Movements such as socialism and feminism naturally fit in with this. Faced with this, many of the themes that Van Kohl focused on are topics that people today also focus on, or continue to focus on, to improve the world: vegetarianism, feminism, an appreciation of nature, the proper education of children, sexual information, and the equal distribution of possessions. But this God finally gave her the best answer.

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