Marjolijn Hof


Marjolijn bezigMarjolijn Hof was born in Amsterdam in 1956. Soon afterwards she moved to The Hague.
She grew up surrounded by treasures, as her father was not only a psychologist, but a visual artist and art collector besides. There were bookcases through the house and there was always plenty for Marjolijn to read. As a child she loved to make her own picture storybooks.

She could toy and tinker for hours on end. As she had rather eccentric ideas of how to go about things, the final products turned out differently than she had intended - af if she had got carried away in the process.
So she would end up with wobbly cotton potholders, knit much too tightly and pictures which suddenly refused to fit the page. Though her creativity was much praised, Marjolijn herself was invariably a bit disappointed by the result.

She so much wanted to make something ordinary...

Marjolijn knutselen

Which somehow she never managed.

Kindergarten and primary school were in the same building: De Eerste Nederlandse Montessorischool. The school had an exciting playing field and just beyond were the dunes. Cycling there all by herself was an adventure. There was the smell of rose hip and Marjolijn made herself believe her bike was a horse. Occasionally she did not notice she had already left the dune area and passers-by gave her funny looks. Such a strange way to ride a bike!

In the final year of primary school Marjolijn wrote a play, Be Careful, St. Nicholas. It was performed on stage and the teacher sent the script to Dutch author Mies Bouhuys, whose reply included some comments on the play. 
By then Marjolijn had made up her mind she would be a writer. Or an artist. But by no means an actress. She had just played a part in her own play; so much for acting.

After primary school Marjolijn went to grammar school, the Haags Montessori Lyceum. She did poorly at maths and science and any subjects involving arithmetic. Art and Dutch were her favourites. Marjolijn read poetry and novels and for a short while she was editor of the school magazine. She was always writing stories (though few of them were ever finished) and made lots of drawings.

After graduation she felt at a loss. She was living in digs in The Hague and did odd jobs. As she was supposed to make a living, Marjolijn enrolled at the Academy for Librarians and Documentalists, so that at least her training would have something to do with books. The next step was a career in a children's library.
Meanwhile she kept writing poems and stories, but never sent them to a publisher. The poems were meant for adults and most of the stories for children. It was a deliberate choice. Marjolijn had grown up with marvellous children's books and as a librarian she had specialised in children's literature. (She will wince when people ask her if she is not yet ready to write a 'real' novel and then explain for the umpteenth time that the craftsmanship required is equally great for both genres.)

Writing grew increasingly important to her. Marjolijn took writing courses at Schrijversvakschool 't Colofon. In 1999, after nearly twenty years as a librarian, she tendered het resignation. She was now a professional writer.

Since then her books have been translated into fourteen languages and among the various prizes she was awarded were the Gouden Griffel and the Gouden Uil for Children's Literature

Translated by Marius Jaspers


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