Dutch literature

From literary debut to collected edition: the works of Flemish and Dutch authors past and present are brought together here.

Dutch literature is one of our main collection fields, covering the entire literary output in the Dutch language, past and present. City Librarian Frans Hendrik Mertens laid the foundations of today’s impressive collection in the mid-nineteenth century.

The collection comprises all works by Flemish and Dutch literary writers from the Middle Ages to the present day. The Heritage Library has all kinds of original publications in various literary genres, including prose and poetry, plays, essays, rhetoric, young people’s literature and comics. Every possible variant is also collected for Flemish literary work: revised editions, school publications, dramatisations, large print publications, non-commercial and collector’s editions, and non-book material such as audio books and film adaptations. The collection is also pre-eminent in the field of translations of Flemish literature.

But it is not just the big names and familiar titles that are collected. The Heritage Library pays particular attention to literature that has remained under the radar. For instance, there are the remarkable occasional verses of poets – both secular and religious – who have written passionately about the lives of their contemporaries. The Heritage Library also holds an extensive collection of pulp fiction in Dutch: cheap love stories and hospital romances which had huge circulations in the twentieth century. The erotic collection of ‘under-the-counter literature’ offers a fascinating glimpse into the zeitgeist of the 1960s and 1970s.

Secondary literature about Dutch literature, such as surveys, studies and biographies, is also actively collected. The Heritage Library has an extensive collection of literary journals, from reputable titles such as Dietsche Warande and Belfort to obscure avant-garde periodicals that were mimeographed in the 1960s.