Fighting the constraints of her Orthodox upbringing and expectations of her role as a wife and mother, novelist Carry van Bruggen wrote movingly of both the need for freedom and the isolation it could bring. Born Caroline Lea de Haan, she had a long affair with socialist Kees van Bruggen before marrying him in 1904. She traveled with him to the East Indies, where she began writing articles and book reviews for local papers, and continued writing after their return to the Netherlands in 1907. After her divorce in 1917, she became consumed by her work, writing twenty novels in the next fifteen years. The sister of homosexual poet Jacob Israel de Haan, van Bruggen explored a passion for women in her own writing, alongside her grappling with issues of religion, assimilation and the many ways in which society’s constraints make real freedom impossible. In her 1910 novel De Verlatene (The Forsaken Woman), she writes movingly of a Jewish father whose assimilated children have abandoned him but have still not found happiness in their new lives. Dismissed by philosophers and critics as a self-taught woman, van Bruggen was still loved as a complex and thoughtful writer by her many readers.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Carry van Bruggen." (Viewed on May 18, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/bruggen-carry>.