Eric de Kuyper

Three Sisters in London

During World War I, Eric de Kuyper’s grandfather’s position with the railways took him and his family to London. The De Kuypers spent the war years in the magnificent Cannon Street Hotel, a palace which, with its imperturbable rhythm and impeccable order, seemed immune to the inferno raging in the world outside. The family’s three daughters, who were then in their adolescence, never returned to London. They gave this gleaming period of their lives a special place in the stories they often told on family occasions. De Kuyper, who was born during World War II, has collected these stories in a captivating book.

The author himself calls it ‘a girls’ book’ and has provided it with nostalgic illustrations. In doing so, De Kuyper has found an unconventional form for this carefree story with its short sentences, questions and cooing girlish exclamations (‘London! They were in London! How foreign the streets looked!’). The Great War raging on the continent hardly touches these children, it remains a distant rumour, only coming closer in occasional collections for the boys at the front, or in a nighttime Zeppelin raid. The girls’ real life is a fairy tale, made up of visits to concerts, theatre and the cinema, secretly dancing in the hotel with a rich banker, learning how to descend the imposing hotel staircase, table manners, reading picture books and, of course, first love which, as is fitting for young girls, takes place in a swoon of rapture.

The description of the bombing raid during which the hotel guests are led down into the cellars and the ladies are indelicately obliged to pee behind a screen is imbued with a childish excitement which is worlds apart from the fear the adults in the same room must have been feeling. De Kuyper blows the dust off his mother’s memories and conjures her up in all her youthful vigour. The yellowed pages of the old books and magazines from which the writer has clipped his pictures gleam like gold.

In Dutch letters De Kuyper’s highly-stylised prose occupies a place of its own which is not influenced by any other authors. With perfectly chosen words, an eye for detail and an abundance of erudition, his work is a moving evocation of his family’s past.

Mark Vlaeminck, Het Nieuwsblad

Drie zusters in Londen will one day form the exquisite prologue to the inevitable Collected Works of Eric de Kuyper.

Johan Diepstraten, De Stem

In his prose De Kuyper gilds youth so that it can assume a place of honour, he always gives it a special lustre.

Jos Borré,De Morgen

A masterful writer (…) a delightful book.

Theodoor Holman, Het Parool

Eric de Kuyper

Born in Brussels, Eric de Kuyper (1942) made a name for himself as a film maker, semiotician, lecturer in film studies, and as assistant director of the Dutch Film Museum before making his debut as a writer in 1988 with Aan zee (By the Sea), the first part of which has now grown into a successful…

lees meer


Drie zusters in Londen (1996). Fiction, 109 pages.
Copies sold: 5,000



Prinsengracht 747-751
NL - 1017 JX Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 622 61 07
Fax: 31 20 625 33 27


lees meer