Annejet van der Zijl
(Leeuwarden, 1962) in 2010 published Bernhard, a reconstruction of the hitherto unknown German background of Prince Bernhard. With this book she obtained her doctorate in history at the University of Amsterdam. The four books which Van der Zijl published have been best-sellers and three of them were adapted for the screen. In 1998 she made her debut with Jagtlust, about a villa in Het Gooi, the meeting-place of artists and poets. Four years later it was followed by Anna, her much-praised biography of Annie M.G. Schmidt. In 2004 Sonny Boy appeared, about the love affair of a Surinamese student and a married Dutch woman, against the backdrop of WWII. The film attracted an audience of 400,000 and was selected the Dutch entry for the Oscars. Van der Zijl grew up in Friesland, studied art history and mass communication in Amsterdam and journalism in London. She worked for HP/De Tijd before deciding in 1999 to become a fulltime writer. Right now Van der Zijl is working on a story set in the US between 1875 and 1950.(WU 2012 GR)
Archive available for: Annejet van der Zijl
Every year VPRO Radio broadcasts this history programme during the festival, live from the Brasserie Dudok. In this episode the writers at the festival discuss literature and history. With live muziek. Hosts: Paul van der Gaag and Mathijs Deen.
History is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for writers. Arthur Japin usually bases himself on historic events and characters. Where in his work does he draw the line between fact and the imagination? And how does an experienced writer of biographies like Annejet van der Zijl bend history to her will? And how did Said el Haji research his latest novel, set in the Mecca of before the origin of Islam? In Dutch.
Up until 1997 one could admire a preserved and mounted human being in a museum in the Catalonean town of Banyoles, 'El Negro' was a black South African who, after persistant worldwide protest, was returned and buried in Africa. This little bit of history inspired Frank Westerman to write El Negro en ik (The Negro and me).
The South African Diana Ferrus wrote a poem about Saartje Baartman, also known as the 'Hottentot venus', a South African Khoisan, who in the nineteenth century travelled through Europa as a fairground attraction. Her skeleton, genitals and brain were kept in a French museum. In 2002, on request of Nelson Mandela, these remains were brought back to her native country and buried in the Cape. How did the white man look upon the black man then, and how does the white man look upon the black man now? Annie M.G. Schmidt's biographer Annejet van der Zijl writes about this matter in her novel Sonny Boy, acclaimed as 'the best novel in 2004'. A discussion about 'us and them', chaired by Noraly Beyer.