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.