The collection: an extensive collection of manuscript and typoscript letters by scholars, artists, authors, politicians and others, from the late sixteenth century to the present; the focus is on nineteenth- and twentieth-century letters.
Size: c. 150,000.
Access: most letters can be found in the KB Catalogue. In the ‘Advanced search screen’ there is an option to search for letters only.
More Information: Ad Leerintveld - 070-3140320
Willem van Oranje. Signed letter to [the authorities of Breda]. Antwerpen, 4 okt. 1580. Shelfnumber 135 B 208.
Last part of a letter from Dick Ket to Nel Schilt with self portrait in ink and chalk. Bennekom, 16 okt. 1931. Shelfnumber 68 C 8. Fol. 47v.
The letters collection is an important source for historical research. There are letters by scholars, such as the classicist, historian and numismatist Gisbert Cuper (1644-1716), the versatile R.M. van Goens (1758-1810), the historian and State archivist Hendrik van Wijn (1740-1831), the professor of Dutch literature Jan te Winkel (1847-1927) and the psychologist of religion and publicist Fokke Sierksma (1917-1977).
Among the literary collection, letters by the poet and statesman Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687) stand out, as well as those by the publisher and poet J. Immerzeel Jr. (1776-1841). Other important items are the correspondence archive of De Nieuwe Gids, and the autographs by and to the poet and critic Hendrik Marsman (1899-1940).
Important letters by artists are those by the painter Jan Toorop (1858-1928), the painter and etcher Willem Witsen (1860-1923), and the composer Willem Pijper (1894-1947). In addition, there are smaller collections of letters by the painters R.N. Roland Holst (1868-1938) and Dick Ket (1902-1938).
Politically oriented collections are, among others, those of Ch.Fr. Lebrun (1739-1824) and L.W.C. Keuchenius (1822-1893). In addition, there are extensive collections of family correspondence such as the Cornets de Groot archive and that of relatives and friends of A.J. Enschedé (1829-1896). Also, there are many single letters that have entered the Library as part of an autographs collection, such as that of G.J. Beeldsnijder van Voshol (1791-1853).
The letters have entered the collection in various ways and at different times.
Relationship with other collections
With regard to letters by modern writers there is an agreement with the Dutch Literary Museum. The KB only adds to existing collections.
Apart from the letters in a limited number of archives, all items have been recorded in the Catalogus Epistularum Neerlandicarum (CEN) .