Hendrik Willem van Loon

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Hendrik Willem van Loon (1922)

Hendrik Willem van Loon (stage name Hendrik Willem VanLoon ) (born January 14, 1882 in Rotterdam ( South Holland ); † March 11, 1944 in Old Greenwich , Connecticut ) was a Dutch-American author, historian, journalist, draftsman and book illustrator.


Originally from Rotterdam , van Loon immigrated to the USA in 1902 and studied at Harvard and Cornell before going to Russia as a newspaper correspondent in 1905 and reporting on the revolution. In 1906 he married Eliza Ingersoll Bowditch, a descendant of Nathaniel Bowditch , with whom he had two sons.

He obtained his doctorate in Munich in 1911 ; his scientific work became his first book, The Fall of the Dutch Republic (1913). During the beginning of the First World War, he reported from Belgium ; from 1915 he taught history at Cornell. Here he became very popular, but was sometimes viewed as unscientific and unsuitable for the teaching profession.

He became an American citizen in 1919, and in 1920 he married his second wife, Eliza Helen Criswell, to whom he later returned after having married Frances Goodrich Ames for the third time in 1927 .

He wrote numerous popular scientific works such as B. The Story of Mankind (1921) or The Story of the Bible (1923) and a fictional Rembrandt biography.

He helped Carl Zuckmayer with his immigration during the Third Reich, as he gratefully reports in As was a piece of me . In addition to Zuckmayer, he was on friendly terms with many other emigrants , such as Heinrich Eduard Jacob . Thomas Mann and his wife Katia were his guests for several days in 1935 on their second trip to the United States; he got them an invitation to a private dinner with President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House . Van Loon was friends with Roosevelt, and Thomas Mann adored him. At that time he worked for NBC and commented on current affairs as Oom Henk . In 1942 he was raised to the nobility by Queen Wilhelmina . Since 1938 he was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters .


  • The history of mankind (translation: Gustav Schultze-Buchwald from "The Story of Mankind"). Berlin: Rudolf Mosse Buchverlag, 1924; 52nd edition 1935.
  • The multiplied man (translation: Lizzi Rosenfeld from "Multiplex Man, or the story of survival through invention"). Berlin: Rudolf Mosse Buchverlag, 1929. http://d-nb.info/361168683
  • From Columbus to Coolidge: Development of a part of the world (translation: Gustav Schultze-Buchwald from "The Story of America"). Berlin: Rudolf Mosse Buchverlag, 1929. New edition under the title America: The novel of a country (new translation: Karl Danz). Berlin: Verlag des Druckhaus Tempelhof, 1949.
  • The super real. Time picture around Rembrandt van Rijn (translation: Gustav Schultze-Buchwald from "Life and times of Rembrandt von Rijn"). Berlin: Rudolf Mosse Buchverlag, 1931. A short version was published as Rembrandt in the volume People who moved the world , published by Das Beste, Stuttgart 1995. ISBN 3-87070-590-6 .
  • You and the earth: A geography for everyone (translation: Alfred Ernst Johann from "Geography"). Berlin: Ullstein Verlag, 1932.
  • The Pacific (translation: Walter Jelen-Jelinek from "The Story of the Pacific"). Zurich: Pan-Verlag, 1947.
  • The big ones are not mute (translation: Edmund Th. Kauer). Vienna & Stuttgart: Humboldt-Verlag, 1952.


  • Gerard Willem van Loon: The story of Hendrik Willem van Loon . New York: Lippincott, 1972.
  • Cornelis van Minnen: Van Loon: Popular Historian, and FOR Confidant . New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. ISBN 1-4039-7049-1 .

Web links

Commons : Hendrik Willem van Loon  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hans Rudolf Vaget : Hendrik Willem Van Loon. In: Ders .: Thomas Mann, the American. Life and work in American exile 1938–1952. S. Fischer. Frankfurt am Main 2011, pp. 76–82.
  2. Members: Hendrik Willem van Loon. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed May 1, 2019 .