Author

Paul Biegel

Paul Biegel (1925-2006) dreamed of becoming a pianist, but finally, by way of a failed law degree and a period spent in the USA, ended up as a writer for a television guide and a cartoon studio. In 1962 he debuted as a children’s author with De gouden gitaar (The Golden Guitar). A new book followed almost every year.
In the nearly forty years Paul Biegel wrote for children, he enjoyed unabated success with both readers and critics. Oblivious to passing fashions and visibly enjoying playing with language, he related his timeless tales of dwarfs, princesses, witches, robbers and talking animals. His world was that of the fairytale, with a riddle to be solved, a scraggy hero and the eternal struggle between Good and Evil.
Some of Biegel’s stories are of the adventurous, unpretentious kind, such as De kleine kapitein (The Little Captain, 1971). De tuinen van Dorr (The Gardens of Dorr, 1969), Nachtverhaal (Night Story, 1992) and De soldatenmaker (The Soldier-Maker, 1994), on the other hand, are based on great themes such as friendship and love, loneliness, fear, jealousy, death and war. Biegel’s is a unique voice in Dutch children’s literature; a ‘master narrator with a robber’s heart’, as he has been called. The language in his books shimmers and sings and the adventures he devises are breathtaking, whether they are about a princess, a dwarf or a bunch of mice. Biegel’s work earned him many awards.

The Gardens of Dorr

The Gardens of Dorr

(Holland, 1969, 144 pages)

This book can be seen as the magnum opus in Biegel’s sizeable oeuvre. He presents a theme relevant to all times and all cultures – love conquers death – , convincing and often touching characters and an extraordinarily ingenious composition, plus an abundant wealth of language, humour and imagination.

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The Little Captain

The Little Captain

(Holland, 1970, 128 pages)

De kleine kapitein (The Little Captain, 1970) is one of the most appealing children’s stories ever to have been written in Dutch. Rarely has the spirit of a nine-year-old (boy or girl, it doesn’t matter which) been understood so completely and been quite so irresistibly enchanted.

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Night Story

Night Story

(Lemniscaat, 1992, 160 pages)

In an old doll’s house stored in an attic lives a gnome. Every evening he tours the house to check the candles have been blown out, and on Saturdays he plays cards with Toad and Rat, the grouchy couple living in the basement. Then one stormy night he’s visited by a fairy with torn wings.

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Man and Mouse

Man and Mouse

(Holland, 2003, 144 pages)

Gruesome, engaging, funny, valiant and sad, Man and Mouse, is written by the greatest fairystoryteller in the Netherlands, Paul Biegel. It is an allegory set in the low-level world of mice: indoor and outdoor mice, field and house mice, the ‘Browns’ and the ‘Greys’, as well as a specimen of a newer species, the computer mouse.

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Swing

Swing

(Holland, 2004, 92 pages)

After a forty-year career as master storyteller, the gifted writer and grand master of Dutch children’s books no longer needs much of an introduction. But there is one important question: what is special about his newest book, Swing?

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Runaway

Runaway

(Holland, 2005, 96 pages)

‘Runaway’ is the nickname of a boy who suffers from a strong desire to run away. He’s not bothered where he runs to, just so long as he can get away. Away from home, away from school, away from the village. But when he disappears to Paris and lands behind bars, it comes to an end: he has to go to sea, because you can’t run away from a boat, says his father.

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Translations

Website

http://www.paul-biegel.com