Nynke van Hichtum

The importance of Nynke van Hichtum is still evident today. This is illustrated by a work of art in Nes, the Frisian village where she was born in 1860, a clergyman’s daughter; a statue of Afke with her ten children in Warga (Friesland); the internationally praised film Nynke (2001, Pieter Verhoeff) about Van Hichtum’s failed marriage to Pieter Jelles Troelstra, the renowned leader of the Dutch social-democratic workers’ party; the two-yearly ‘Nienke van Hichtumprijs’; and Aukje Holtrop’s fascinating biography (2005). In addition to writing ‘Frisian stories’, Van Hichtum adapted many folktales from different cultures and was a leading reviewer of children’s books, calling for good style, beautiful form, easy accessibility and inspiring content, for adults as well. Van Hichtum kept on publishing until the year of her death (1939). Her oeuvre, with Afke’s tiental as its high point, will last for centuries.

Afke’s tiental

Afke’s tiental

(Kluitman, 1903, 159 pagina's)

Afke’s tiental (Afke’s Ten, 1903) by Nynke van Hichtum is one of the first great literary works of the twentieth century for young readers in the Netherlands. The book is a lively, penetrating sketch of country life in a poverty-stricken Frisian family of farm labourers, consisting of father Marten (an agricultural worker who is dependent on seasonal work), mother Afke and ten children from nought to nineteen: a sketch with its origins in the family stories that Van Hichtum’s maid Hiltje Feenstra told her and which is close to the reality of the time, without being dominated by the degrading poverty in which working-class families lived back then.

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