Hendrik Marsman

Table of contents

An overview of the Hendrik Marsman collection

  • Contents: collection of manuscripts, letters and archive documents by and about poet Hendrik Marsman.
  • Size: about 1.000 letters, 100 folders (totalling about 2 metres of documents). 
  • Access: can be found in the KB catalogue. Cannot be lent out but are available for inspection in the Special Collections reading room. The letters have also been included in the Catalogus Epistularum Neerlandicarum (CEN) online catalogue. The correspondence between Ter Braak and Marsman has been digitised and can be viewed via the Menno ter Braak Foundation and DBNL.
  • More informationJeroen Vandommele.

History of the Hendrik Marsman collection

Hendrik Marsman was one of the most important Dutch poets during the period 1920-1940. After making his debut as a poet in 1918, he encountered the expressionism movement during a trip to Germany in 1921, which would strongly influence his poetry. 

In 1923, Marsman made his breakthrough as a poet with the publication of Verzen. He also became known as a critic in magazines such as De Nieuwe Kroniek, Den Gulden Winckel and De Gids. In 1924, he became editor of De Vrije Bladen along with Roel Houwink and also started publishing reviews in the NRC newspaper on a regular basis. Marsman then sought to connect with writers Menno Ter Braak and Edgar du Perron. From 1931, he regularly wrote for the literary journal Forum, which they founded.

Marsman's archive in the KB consists of manuscripts, correspondence, and proofs of and about his work and life. A few manuscripts are annotated by Edgar du Perron. There is also a large collection of critiques and reviews.

  • Portrait of H. Marsman (1924)

Origin of the Hendrik Marsman collection

In 1947, Marsmans widow Rina L. Marsman-Barendregt was commissioned by the government to collect as much archival material relating to her former husband as possible. This collection was added to the KB as the ‘Marsman Collection’ in 1948 by the Ministry of Education, Culture & Science (OCW). Since then, the collection has often been expanded thanks to donations and purchases.

In 1948, M.R. Radermacher Schorer donated manuscripts and typescripts of the poems 'Vera' and 'Penthesileia' and of the Temple and Cross volume. Radermacher Schorer's widow gave more pieces to the KB in 1960, such as the manuscript of the epistolary novel Heden ik, morgen gij, which Marsman wrote with Simon Vestdijk. The estate of Halbo C. Kool bequeathed letters and postcards from Marsman to his parents to the collection in 1975. A collection of 218 letters from Du Perron to Marsman came from the estate of Elisabeth du Perron-de Roos. 

In 1981, Albert Vigoleis Thelen donated a number of pieces to the KB, including the copy of De dood van Angèle Degroux, with notes by Du Perron. A file on the various editions of the Port nigra volume was acquired from Beijers in Utrecht in 1992.

A collection of 15 photographs and 3 postcards of/from or relating to Hendrik Marsman from the period 1915-1939 was purchased from antiquarian bookshop André Swertz in Utrecht (1987) and from antiquarian bookshop Aioloz in Leiden (2007), from the collection of Nol Gregoor. This collection includes photographs of Marsman and houses where he worked.

Accessibility of the Hendrik Marsman collection

The collection can be consulted in the KB's Special Collections reading room. 

  • Manuscript of the first poem in Hendrik Marsman's 'Penthesileia' (1924) cycle. 

Relationshop to other collections

A large collection of Marsman's manuscripts, photographs and letters can be found at the Museum of Literature

Literature about the Hendrik Marsman collection


  • Goedegebuure, J., Op zoek naar een bezield verband. G.A. van Oorschot, 1981.
  • Goedegebuure, J., Zee, berg, rivier. Het leven van H. Marsman. De Arbeiderspers, 1999.
  • Storm, R. & Thomassen, K. (red.), Gebiologeerd door zichzelf. Het literaire leven van H. Marsman & E. du Perron. KB, 1999.


  • Thomassen, K., ‘H. Marsman, dichter en letterkundige, 1899-1940’. Verzamelaars en verzamelingen. Koninklijke Bibliotheek 1798-1998. WBooks, 1998. pp. 132-136.