Hella Haasse  

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Hélène "Hella" Serafia Haasse (2 February 1918 – 29 September 2011) was a Dutch writer, whose novel Oeroeg (1948) was a staple for generations of Dutch schoolchildren.

Many of her works are historical novels, but she has also produced essays, autobiographical material, short stories, etc. Some of her work, such as her debut Oeroeg, is set in the Dutch East Indies, where she was born and lived during the first 20 years of her life. She also wrote autobiographical texts and books about her life in the East Indies, such as Krassen op een rots (1970). The East Indies continue to play an important part in her novels, e.g. in Sleuteloog (2000), which has the same topic as Oeroeg: is a friendship between a Dutch and an Indonesian child possible and can they really understand each other?

Haasse is highly valued by her many readers and the critics. She received the prestigious Constantijn Huygens Prize and the P. C. Hooft Award in 1981 and 1984, respectively. She also won the Annie Romein Prize, the Dirk Martens Prize and the Prize of the Public of the NS (twice). She is the only author who has written the prestigious annual "Boekenweekgeschenk" thrice, in 1948, 1959 and 1994. In March, 2007 Haasse was back in the news. While cleaning her house, she happened upon the lost manuscript of a novel she had written in 1950.

Already early in her life she earned international recognition, especially in France (where she has lived for many years). She is Officier dans l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur. Some of Haasse's works have been translated into English (see below).


  • Oeroeg (1948)
  • Het woud der verwachting - 1949 (translated into English as In a dark wood wandering, 1989)
  • De verborgen bron - The hidden source (1950)
  • De scharlaken stad - 1952 (translated into English as The scarlet city. A novel of 16th-century Italy, 1952)
  • De ingewijden - The incrowd (1957)
  • Cider voor arme mensen - Cider for poor people (1960)
  • Een nieuwer testament - A newer testament (1966, translated as Threshold of fire. A novel of fifth century Rome, 1993)
  • De tuinen van Bomarzo - The gardens of Bomarzo (1968)
  • Huurders en onderhuurders - Tenants and Undertenants (1971)
  • De Meester van de Neerdaling - The Master of Descent (1973)
  • Een gevaarlijke verhouding of Daal-en-Bergse brieven - A dangerous affair or Daal-en-Bergish letters (1976)
  • Mevrouw Bentinck - Mrs. Bentinck (1978, 1982 and 1990)
  • Charlotte Sophie Bentinck (1978 and 1996)
  • De wegen der verbeelding - The roads of imagination (1983)
  • Een vreemdelinge in Den Haag - 1984 (translated into English as A stranger in The Hague. The letters of Queen Sophie of the Netherlands to Lady Malet, 1842–1877, 1989)
  • Berichten van het Blauwe Huis - Messages from the blue house (1986)
  • Schaduwbeeld of Het geheim van Appeltern (1989) - Shadow picture or the Secret of Appeltern
  • Heren van de thee - The Lords of Tea (1992) (translated into English by Ina Rilke as The Tea Lords, 2010. )
  • Een handvol achtergrond, 'Parang Sawat' - A handful of background, 'Parang Sawat' (1993, translated into English as Forever a stranger and other stories, including Oeroeg, 1996)
  • Transit (1994)

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