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.
1756 - 1831
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