A.L.G. Bosboom-Toussaint’s letters
This project’s aim is a first digital edition of the letters of Geertruida Bosboom-Toussaint (1812-1886), comprising 1,561 preserved letters sent by her, before as well as after her marriage. After she died, most letters addressed to her were either returned to their senders or burned by her husband Johannes Bosboom. What is left of them is therefore found in the senders’ archives, with some exceptions. Biographer Hans Reeser reports that although no regular correspondence can be shown, Toussaint’s letters often do show her response to a preceding letter.
The importance of the digital edition is primarily derived from Bosboom-Toussaint’s prominent position relative to other female authors as well as those (men) who had the say in the literary field. Her letters constitute a major nineteenth century ego document, comparable with the diaries of Willem de Clercq (with whom Toussaint was in contact), and the correspondence of the Tachtigers (refer to similar projects by Ton van Kalmthout and Ineke Huysman, and Annemarie van Kets-Vree, respectively). Considering Bosboom-Toussaint’s position in religious matters, her letters are also of importance to historians of religion. And of course her letters are of importance to laymen interested in nineteenth century literature, especially in Bosboom-Toussaint’s novels themselves, and in her towns of residence The Hague and Alkmaar.
The letters are transcribed with some adapted punctuation, annotated and linked to the NEWW (New approaches to European Women’s Writing) VRE. This is done bidirectionally: on the one hand, the letter edition is used from the VRE as a source of information on Toussaint’s reception of other female authors, and on how those authors responded to her work. On the other hand, the letter edition provides Toussaint’s relationship with other female authors she read, and with men and women who read her, with a broader international context. Primarily, the project makes use of what already has been transcribed and published in various ways or has been otherwise documented:
- the Repertorium (directory) of these letters, published by biographer H. Reeser
- fragments of letters quoted by Reeser in his biography
- letters published after Toussaint’s death by J. Bosboom Nz in Onze Eeuw 1912 and 1914.
- various letters from the Metamorfoze project: the Onuitgegeven brieven van Mevrouw Bosboom-Toussaint (ed. C. Tazelaar)
In addition to this, letters are used that originate from collections managed by Allard Pierson (UvA), UB Leiden, and Literatuurmuseum. The letters are edited and presented in eLaborate. On a modest scale, this work was initiated in 2015 by dr. Nelleke Moser (VU) and a number of her students.
Currently, work for the project is done by dr. Annemarie Doornbos, who holds a PhD on Bosboom-Toussaint, and dr. Suzan van Dijk, moderator of the NEWW VRE. The latter is responsible for coordinating the activities. Project leader is Ton van Kalmthout. In future, there will be room for more participants and trainees.