Betje Wolff & Aagje Deken stone unveiled at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam

Unveiling of writer’s stone by (l – r) Alie Vis (curator of the Betje Wolff Museum), Aafje de Jong (chairman of the Betje Wolff Museum), Karen Polder (designer), Marita Mathijsen (emeritus professor), Maartje Smits ( poet), mayor of Purmerend Ellen van Selm and Annabelle Birnie (director Nieuwe Kerk). Photo by Janiek Dam.

International Women’s Day: Betje Wolff and Aagje Deken commemorated.

A writer’s stone was just unveiled in De Nieuwe Kerk, prior to International Women’s Day, in honor of the writing duo Betje Wolff and Aagje Deken. The stone was revealed to loud applause – a design by Karen Polder. During the meeting, the writers were honored by different generations. Poetry talent Maartje Smits (1986) and emeritus professor of modern Dutch literature Marita Mathijsen (1944) gave a speech. Ellen van Selm, mayor of Purmerend, also addressed the duo, who together created new forms of literature. Present in De Nieuwe Kerk were numerous guests, writers and feminist icons.

Two hundred and twenty years after the death of the writer’s couple, the writer’s stone will be given a place with the other writer’s stones, including Multatuli, Hella S. Haasse and Anton de Kom. As of today, the public can admire the stone in De Nieuwe Kerk.

A year memorable for Betje Wolff and Aagje Deken
With a new biography about Betje Wolff on the way by Marita Mathijsen and with the successful retranslation of History of Miss Sara Burgerhart by Tonnus Oosterhoff (winner of the PC Hooft Prize for poetry in 2012), 2024 will be a memorable year for the writing duo Betje Wolff and Aagje Deken.

This year marks 220 years since the two writers died shortly after each other. From pen pals, they became life partners. Together they wrote their greatest literary success in 1782: History of Miss Sara Burgerhart , included in the Canon of the Netherlands. The work is considered the first modern novel in the Netherlands and a genuine document of the Enlightenment. With the epistolary novel they encouraged women to think independently. They also wrote many poems, letters, reflections and pamphlets. They involve themselves in political and social issues and provide merciless commentary on their time.

Karen Polder
Karen Polder is the designer of the writer’s stone for Betje and Aagje. She studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and the Royal College of Art in London. As an independent designer, she designs books and exhibitions for museums and heritage institutions. For this stone, Polder uses a brand new letter designed by Jacob Wise. The stone was carved by Henk Welling. Berry Slok supervised the project.

Writers in De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam
With the writer’s stone for Betje and Aagje, a special pair is added to the literary pantheon of De Nieuwe Kerk. Many famous writers are buried or commemorated here. Big names in addition to those already mentioned are Coornhert (1522 – 1590), PC Hooft (1581 – 1647), Joost van den Vondel (1578 – 1679), Da Costa (1798 – 1860), Johan Huizinga (1872 – 1945), Willem Frederik Hermans (1921 – 1995) and Louis Couperus (1863-1923).

7th March 2024