Willem Bilderdijk

Willem Bilderdijk (Amsterdam, September 7, 1756 - December 18, 1831) was a Dutch historian, linguist, poet and lawyer.

When he was 6 years old, he sustained an accident to his foot and as a result got a very serious infection. Medical errors made him stay inside for about ten years. In those years he devoted himself to drawing, studying and writing, making for himself a foundation for the rest of his life. In 1780, after working for a short time in his father's office, he started to study Law. Two years later he was promoted to become a Lawyer and he settled in Den Hague.

In his life he knew a lot of misery. Because he did not recognise the French Revolution, he had to flee into exile. Three of his children, from his first marriage with Catherina Rebacca Woesthoven, died very young. He met his second wife in London in 1795, Catherine Wilhelmine Schweikhardt, but the misery continued. Four from his five children born in Germany, in exile, also died very young. In his profession he saw the oppurtunity to publish about 10 collections of poems in addition to his teachings. In 1806 he returned to his motherland. He gave lessons to Lodewijk Napoleon and worked on the realisation of the Royal Library. In spite of his industrious efforts, he lived on only bread and barley water. Fortunately for him, the new monarch William I regarded him as a loyal follower of the Royal House. He received an annuity but not his so wanted professorship. In 1817 he moved to Leiden, were he lived in miserable circumstances. He gave private lessons and doing so he had a great political and religious influence. Embittered he left Leiden in 1827, the place where he had written about 25 collections of poems and many many dialogues and translations. They moved to Haarlem, where his wife died in 1830, leaving him and his son Lodewijk behind. He died in 1831 at age 75.

Willem Bilderdijk
1756 - 1831




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