Willem Bilderdijk (author)

The collection: A nearly complete collection of the works of the poet Willem Bilderdijk (1756-1831), i.a. collections of poetry and linguistic treatises. Many copies have handwritten dedications by the author and/or contain letters and engravings; also, many copies that were corrected by the author or served as copy for later editions.
Size: c. 800 volumes (more than 1100 objects).
Access: The books can be found in the KB Catalogue. Descriptions of the books in the Leeflang collection can be found by following this link to the KB catalogue.
More information: Arno Kuipers 070-3140561 en Paul van Capelleveen 070-3140331.

Portrait of Willem Bilderdijk
Willem Bilderdijk

Portrait of Willem Bilderdijk

Portrait of Willem Bilderdijk (from: R.A. Kollewijn: Bilderdijk: zijn leven en zijn werken. Amsterdam: Van Holkema & Warendorf, 1891, vol. 1, frontispiece)
Willem Bilderdijk

Portrait of Willem Bilderdijk (from: R.A. Kollewijn:Bilderdijk: zijn leven en zijn werken. Amsterdam: Van Holkema & Warendorf, 1891, vol. 1, frontispiece)

Titelpage of: Mijn verlustiging. [Revised edition]. Leyden: C. van Hoogeveen junior en Erven D. Klippink, 1781.
'Mijn verlustiging', title page

Titelpage of Mijn verlustiging [Revised edition]. Leyden: C. van Hoogeveen junior en Erven D. Klippink, 1781.

Collection profile

The oeuvre of the writer, lawyer, teacher, historian, translator but most of all poet Willem Bilderdijk (1756-1831) is gigantic. The urge to write and the output in books of Bilderdijk was legendary even during his lifetime. In 2006 the Bilderdijk bibliography by Lesley Monfils appeared, showing that the number of monographs alone exceeds 400. The KB owns a large part of these.

Building the Bilderdijk collection started soon after the Library was founded. In the early nineteenth century, Bilderdijk was considered a great poet, in the same league with Joost van den Vondel. One of the earliest works by Bilderdijk in the Library is a 1781 edition of the famous Mijn verlustiging, a collection of erotic poems. The collection also includes a few special eighteenth-century occasional poems by Bilderdijk, such as the one for his wife, Ter verjaarsfeest van mijne egade from 1794 and Bij ‘t lijk van mijn zoontjen, na drie weken levens overleden, den laatsten van grasmaand MDCCLXXXIX from 1789, signed and dated by Bilderdijk. Another remarkable work is Kort verhaal van eene aanmerklijke luchtreis, en nieuwe planeetontdekking (1813), a so-called translation from the Russian, although it entirely written by Bilderdijk.

Apart from the monographs, the KB also has a large number of manuscripts and letters. There are various poems in manuscript, as well as manuscripts of historical and legal works. In the collection of letters there are, among others, 224 letters from Bilderdijk to the bookseller and publisher Johannes Immerzeel jr.

In 2008, the size of the Bilderdijk collection was more than doubled by the acquisition of the so-called ‘Leeflang collection’, a long-term loan from the Dutch Literary Museum. This collection, compiled by A.W. Leeflang, is special because it includes many editions from the period after Bilderdijk’s death. The collection, which was studied by Monfils for the bibliography, contains copies with handwritten dedications, letters, pasted-in engravings, corrected copies (which served as copy for later editions) and special editions, many with textual variants. The collection’s size is some eleven metres of books and journals, all of them with bibliographical annotations by the owner. The Leeflang collection can be found via this link in de KB-catalogue.

See also: our Bilderdijk dossier, in Dutch

Literature