The Diaries of Willem de Clercq 1811-1844

Edited by Ineke Huysman and Ton van Kalmthout

When still a young boy in Amsterdam, Willem de Clercq (1795-1844) began writing stories and plays for his family. At the age of six, he moved on to reporting about outings. For example in his ‘Journaal van een klein reisje, gedaan met papa, mama en nicht Kops naar het kamp te Zeist’ [Diary of a short trip with papa, mama and cousin on Monday, 2 September 1811 (a fair is visiting the town)] he writes the words: “Behold, this is the day on which I begin.” This solemn statement marks the start of a diary kept with extreme regularity and great diligence. The final comments date from a few days before De Clerq’s unexpected death in 1844.

De Clerq’s diaries are completely unique in the Netherlands. Not only due to their scope with an estimated length of some 30,000 pages but also regarding the depth and breadth of the comments. Readers of the text will see the inconstancy of a human life pass before them, bringing with it the political, social, cultural and technological changes of an entire era. Thanks to the collaboration of various interested persons and organisations, a section of the diary, namely the period up to 1830, is currently available on this website. In addition to the scanned images of pages from the diaries, readers will find here the transcribed text covering the years 1811 to 1826. The section from 1827 to 1844 is for the time being only available in scanned form. Later sections of the diary together with supplements to the already available text, will be added in due course.