Maria Dermoût (1888-1962) was born on a sugar plantation on Java in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia). Her first novel, the sensual coming-of-age drama Days Before Yesterday was published in 1951 and subsequently translated into several languages. The Ten Thousand Things came out in 1955 and found a readership in over ten languages. Dermoût’s modest but exceptional and enduring oeuvre continues to inspire. In her 2012 autobiographical bestseller Wild, Cheryl Strayed describes how Dermoût’s words kept her going on her rite-of-passage hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.
In the fifties Maria Dermoût’s novels were well known. Her bestseller The Ten Thousand Things jostled Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago and Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the American bestseller lists.