Brave Girls – De Groene Amsterdammer

Nanny van Will, pseudonym of Susanna Jacoba Adriana Lugten-Reese (1880-1944)

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What does it say about children’s book author Mien Labberton (1883-1966) that she took care of her niece, her brother’s child, full time for a number of years? Anyway, it was a recurring theme in her books. The people having another baby were in keeping with the “common human values” she was so eager to make her readers aware of: honesty, self-awareness, and concern for others. It was for those values ​​that were read at that time. But at the same time these values ​​have been forgotten, I’m afraid.

Like Van Hichtum, Van Kol, Pétillon, and to a lesser extent Van Marxveldt, Labberton felt a strong penchant for raising children in her books. It was relevant at the time: Compulsory education in 1901 created more care and concern for children, and the belief was that children (in books) should be protected because of their vulnerability. Lapperton – who studied child psychology after his education – gave regular lectures on the importance of literature for children, the bad effect of “reading stimulus”, and “the damage to inner life caused by a lack of appreciation for poetry”.

Perhaps that’s why her books and poems are so innocent in tone, simple, and straightforward, they have so much to do with nature – she’s even been awarded the Medal of Honor by the Animal Protection Society – and her goal is to bring children closer to God.

This religious aspect is not always appreciated in her adult psychological novels: “If Mian Lapperton wanted to spread her faith,” one reviewer wrote, “OK. and really pious,” but is bothered by “hypersensitivity.” I read elsewhere that her books were well-behaved and of a moral tone, so they were only used in Sunday school and then not remembered.

There was no greater respect for children’s literature until the 1970s. He doesn’t have to be so condescending anymore. I think her “goodness” was also a result of the time she lived in.

Remarkably again: children’s books from the same period – Dick Trume, Petji Bell, Crommelge, Kiss Boy They are all adventure books. With unscrupulous characters. Most of them were later filmed, and set on stage, which is why I got to know all the titles, and I can’t remember “nature” being such a big topic in those books. Or take care of others.

Her doctor ordered her to resign from her position as editor-in-chief “because of her period”

Next to. Labberton was also not good: she translated, for example, a book with stories about the first sexual experience of young people. After the war – she lived near Arnhem – she designed her own house, because the old house was destroyed. After her parents passed away, she lived with Evelyn Sypkens, a friend who also provided music for some of her books. very rebellious.

With Nannie van Wehl (1880-1944)—another children’s author named after a street in my neighborhood—”Enjoying nature” is also a theme. In addition to being a writer and publicist, Van Weil was a teacher – until she got married. The advantage of her surplus was that she could be more productive as a writer. In total, she wrote 22 books (according to Van Hechtom, she wrote “very transient”) and numerous articles for 56 magazines and newspapers. For example, in 1902 she spoke of better sexual education and in 1908 she spoke of homosexuality.

Her granddaughter Suess Boeuf-van der Meulen, who researched her, wrote, ‘was not an outspoken feminist’, but ‘a self-confident woman who felt that other women still had very little active in the world and she could help them with. to do something about it. This reached its climax when she was the same in 1913 The Hague Women’s Chronicle: Weekly Journal of Educated Women was established. A magazine with plenty of art, literature, drama, music and sports (!), with family, education, health and social issues (she wrote a series of articles on the Franco-Prussian War in 1870). The tune was self-conscious, idealistic and humorous and the motto was: “Lest she sleep at her spinning wheel” (Multatuli). She frequently wrote herself, under her real name Susanna Lughten-Rees, and her writer’s name Nanny van Weyl, as “Mater Konata” (Experienced Mother) and sometimes as “Housewife”. She also asked famous women like Clara Wechman to write for the magazine.

The tone of her children’s books is more moderate. Bertha and Betty’s friendship For example, it is about two girls – decent Berta, too smart for the rest, who is bored to death at school, her mind is always somewhere else, and sexy, skinny, blond, beautiful and popular Betty. They become friends at school, then go through all kinds of troubles together (an annoying grandmother, a terminally ill father) and eventually get ready for marriage and family life together.

The book’s beginning still sparkles, and the “girlfriends sweetheart” appeals to the imagination, but the ending is only a dry summary of the past weeks until their wedding. Female characters quickly take a course in housework, but also continue to study hard, “yes.” The granddaughter of Boef-Van der Meulen wrote her female characters “looked like Susanna herself, although throughout her life she struggled with the difficulties of wanting to be a professional writer, a devoted wife and mother at the same time.”

In September 1914, for example, her doctor forced her to relinquish her position as editor-in-chief at Women’s Facts in The Hague Lying “because of being unwell”. Van Weil was weakened by the pregnancy of her second child and her health was not good before that pregnancy. It is not clear what exactly you are experiencing. After a year off, Van Weil writes every now and then for the journal she founded. But her tone never returns to the magazine.

Several other writers I’ve visited in the past few weeks have also suffered from illnesses for no reason: I read a lot about extreme tiredness, depression, body inflammation, spas, staying in bed and ‘hysteria’, all of which often arose out of order to a greater degree after pregnancy, and they were later announced as mental patients. In the case of Van Hechtom for life. Is it a coincidence that so many of these seven women experienced this? Writing supplement? sick their time?

Reminds me of my recently released podcast There is no little man, Research makers are conducted in patients with unexplained complaints who do not receive a (correct) diagnosis. Seventy to ninety percent of them are women. And wait for the results.

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