The Bilderdijkkamer

Willem Bilderdijk’s estate forms part of the collections of the Society of Dutch Literature and of the Leiden University Libraries (Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden, UBL) and is kept in the UBL’s Special Collections. This online exhibition is an initiative of Scaliger professor Rick Honings in collaboration with Leiden University Libraries and the Things That Talk Foundation on the occasion of Bilderdijk’s 265th birthday on 7 September 2021. Original in Dutch, translation by Lotte van den Bosch.

Object views


  • Life

    <em>Life has been painful, troublesome and empty for me for as long as I can remember. […] I have always suffered a lot physically, morally, and intellectually, and this is what everything boils down to.</em>

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  • Family

    <em>When I sleep, you wake me again; And, when brother lay in the little cradle, Mother did not wake him, But he slept through night and day.</em>

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  • Authorship

    <em>Let me rest once [for once]: it is the right</em> <em>Of your long-faithful servant.</em> <em>I've always been the plaything of your mind,</em> <em>And interpreter of your sense,...</em>

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  • Artist, scholar and cultural critic

    <em>Surely I have had many duties, and of the most varied kinds, in my troubled life...</em>

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  • Devotion

    <em>Once one has got to know him [the man Bilderdijk], insofar as this is possible from modesty, and one is receptive to such forms, then he exerts an imperishable attraction.</em>

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