Louis Couperus (author)

The collection: An extensive collection of editions of works by Louis Couperus (1863-1923), including first and luxury editions, variant bookbindings and manuscripts of novels, stories and poems, and all later impressions, translations and studies of Couperus in book form.
Size: C. 2,200 volumes, 1,400 of which come from the so-called Eekhof-collection; and c. 70 manuscripts.
Coverage: The collection is almost complete.
Access: The books can be found in the KB Catalogue.
More information: Arno Kuipers 070-3140561 or Paul van Capelleveen 070-3140331.

Louis Couperus, De boeken der kleine zielen (1901-1903), bound in parchment, design by Theo Neuhuys
Louis Couperus, De boeken der kleine zielen (1901-1903), bound in vellum, design by Theo Neuhuys
Louis Couperus, Oostwaarts (1924)
Louis Couperus, Oostwaarts (1924)
Louis Couperus, De stille kracht (1900), cover design by J.C. Lebeau.
Louis Couperus, De stille kracht (1900), cover design by J.C. Lebeau.

Collection profile

Louis Couperus (1863-1923) from The Hague is one of the greatest Dutch authors of all times. The extensive oeuvre of this author continues to draw new readers.Classics such as Eline Vere, De stille kracht and Van oude menschen, de dingen die voorbijgaan, are among the absolute highlights of Dutch literature. Translations of his works are widely available. Couperus had much of his work published by L.J. Veen’s publishing company, who worked together with artists such as Richard Roland Holst, Jan Toorop and H.P. Berlage. They produced modern (often art nouveau) bookbindings and illustrations for Couperus’s books. Often multiple variants are present, e.g., of the fairy tale Psyche (1898) with a binding designed by Toorop, of which copies are known in different colours.

The KB also has some 70 manuscripts by Louis Couperus, for instance those of De berg van licht and Het zwevende schaakbord. In addition, the library owns numerous translations and studies of Couperus's works.

History of the collection

During Couperus’s lifetime, the KB received a number of his manuscripts. The collection was enlarged in a spectacular way when, together with the Literary Museum, the KB bought the collection of the famous Couperus collector J.A. Eekhof (1928-2007). The Literary Museum holds the letters, manuscripts and other documents from the Eekhof collection, while the KB takes care of the books.

Among the 1,400 volumes of the Eekhof collection, there are many exceptional copies, such as the unique copy of Herakles (1913), which the publisher Veen had bound in vellum with the title stamped in gold. The binding is unique; it was Veen’s way of compensating for a misprinted earlier edition with the title Herackles. Thanks to Eekhof, the KB owns many translations of Couperus into German, French and English, but also Noodlot in Servo-Croatic and Eline Vere in Urdu.

Literature

  • Fréderic Bastet, Louis Couperus, een biografie. Amsterdam, 2005 (4e druk)
  • H.T.M. van Vliet, Versierde verhalen. De oorspronkelijke boekbanden van Louis Couperus’ werk (1884-1925). Amsterdam, 2000.
  • H.T.M. van Vliet, ‘Perfectie als norm. De Couperuscollectie van J.A. Eekhof’. In: De Parelduiker, 12 (2007), nr. 1. p. 3-13.
  • Erik van Schoonhoven, ‘De essentie van verzamelen. Mysterieuze collectie-Eekhof onthult haar geheimen’. In: Arabesken, 14 (2006), nr. 28, p. 20-22.