Willem Elsschot

Antwerp ISBN (identifier) Lijmen/Het Been

Willem Elsschot
Willem Elsschot
Willem Elsschot
Born(1882-05-07)7 May 1882
Died31 May 1960(1960-05-31) (aged 78)
Antwerp, Belgium
Occupationpoet, writer
AwardsConstantijn Huygens Prize (1951)

Alphonsus Josephus de Ridder (7 May 1882 – 31 May 1960), was a Belgian writer and poet who wrote under the pseudonym Willem Elsschot (pronounced [ˈʋɪləm ˈɛlsxɔt]). A number of his works have been translated into English.


De Ridder was born in Antwerp to a baker's family. He studied economics and business. During secondary school, he developed a love for literature. He was quite restless, having various types of jobs in cities from Antwerp and Brussels to Rotterdam and Paris. During the First World War, he served as the secretary of a national food relief committee in Antwerp. After the war he started his own advertising agency, which he ran until his death.

De Ridder died in Antwerp in 1960, receiving a national literary award posthumously. He was interred in the Antwerpen Schoonselhof.



De Ridder, writing as Elsschot, made his authorial debut as a poet (publishing in the magazine Alvoorder), but it was as a writer of prose that he achieved much of his fame. While living in Rotterdam he wrote Villa des Roses (1913); his most famous work came in the 1920s and 1930s: Lijmen (1924), Kaas (1933), Tsjip (1934) en Het Been (1938), novels with tragic and comic elements.[2]

Central themes in his work are business and family life. His style is characterised by detailed descriptions of surroundings and a mild cynicism. In his first books he works with the same characters, giving the readers a familiarity and a sketch of life in Antwerp during the 1930s. His characters Boorman, an entrepreneur always looking for scams and opportunities, and Frans Laarmans, a clerk, evolve through these books.



Film adaptations

His novel Lijmen/Het Been was adapted into film by Robbe De Hert in 2001 as Lijmen/Het Been. Villa des Roses was adapted to film in 2002 by Frank Van Passel as Villa des Roses.

Comic book adaptation

In 2008 the novel Kaas ("Cheese", 1933) and the novella Het dwaallicht ("Will o'the Wisp", in Three Novels, 1946) were made into graphic novels by Dick Matena.[3]

See also