The World's Best Unknown Books

Maria Dermoût

The Netherlands

Maria Dermoût (1888–1962) was a Dutch novelist, born in Pekalongan, Java. She is considered on of the greats of Dutch literature.

Dermoût, née Ingerman, was born on a sugar plantation in the Dutch East Indies. Her mother died just a few months after Maria was born. She stayed on Pekalongan until 1900, when she went to Haarlem to go to grammar school. She there befriended the geologist Aldert Brouwer with whom she would stay in contact all her life.

In 1906 she returned to the Indies where she met her husband, the jurist Isaac J. Dermoût. They married in 1907. She spent thirty years living in, she later wrote, ‘every town and wilderness of the islands of Java, Celebes, and the Moluccas’. In 1951, at the age of sixty-three, Dermoût published her first book, a memoir called Yesterday. Her celebrated novel The Ten Thousand Things was published in 1955 in The Netherlands. Although it was not considered autobiographical, Dermoût draws from her own life.

In December 1958 Time Magazine praised the translation of Maria Dermoût’s The Ten Thousand Things by Hans Koning, and named it one of the best books of the year among several other iconic literary masterpieces such as: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, Doctor Zhivago by Pasternak and Lolita by Nabokov.

Maria Dermoût