In this edition
Message from the board
By Reinou Anker-Sollie
This is the first Anglophile of this academic year, and I am pleased to say that we had a very fruitful general assembly on the 4th of November. The Board now has two (!) new members: Ammerins Moss-De Boer and Elke Maasbommel. We are very happy to have them, because they will bring new ideas and inspiration to the association. They will introduce themselves in the next Anglo.
The Anglophile below will start off with some sad news, the passing of Elizabeth Waltheer. Helen Wilcox, Irene Visser and Marguerite Corporaal lovingly offered to contribute to an in Memoriam about her. And after your mind has processed how hard and almost always too short life can be, and hopefully also realises that at the same time it can be incredibly satisfying and filled with wonder, you can read on about English breakfasts, a very interesting Dutch writer, antics in the sixties, scones and bookshops in Groningen with English books!
After reading all that, you can, if you want, enjoy an online lecture from Hans Jansen about a novel by Hilary Mantel, who also recently passed away.
Please also take a look at our Save the Date section below. It contains 2 dates with events we will be organising. One in Groningen and one online. We hope to see you soon!
Save the dates!
Please jot this date down in your diary, digitally or on paper: on Saturday the first of April 2023 you are all invited to our annual get-together. Details will follow in the next edition of the Anglophile! And now, this is not a joke!
In addition, we decided to host another online pub quiz, giving all of you the opportunity to see each other on screen. You are invited to join us for another exhilarating contest of minds on Saturday 4th of February 2023. More information will follow in the next Anglo.
In memory of Elizabeth Waltheer
by Helen Wilcox and Irene Visser
Elizabeth Waltheer, who died on 24th October 2022, was the daughter of a Dutch father and an English mother, and she was proud of her English ancestry. She enjoyed deep cultural links with Britain, and often spoke of the pleasure of ‘taking tea’ with an elderly aunt on her visits to London. She spoke English with the same poise and elegance that characterised her whole being.
Elizabeth studied English Language and Literature at Groningen, and became a lecturer in the department during the era of Professors Wilkinson and Gerritsen. Her special area of interest was 20th-century poetry, and she spent a period of research leave in Manchester working with Michael Schmidt, the poetry editor of Carcanet Press. She did not baulk at discussing difficult contemporary poets such as Geoffrey Hill, on whom she published, and her taste in poetry had a profound influence on the syllabus taught to Groningen students. Nineteenth-century English novels were also among her favourite texts to read and teach. She shared her love of literature willingly with students, and organised events for the department such as an unforgettable dramatised public reading of T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ by staff and students.
Marguérite Corporaal, who was one of her students and today is a professor in Irish Literature in Transnational Contexts at the Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen, remembers her well:
“If anyone carried over her love for Victorian England to her students, it certainly was Elizabeth Waltheer. She gave us access to the many contexts of the era— the woman question, literary infrastructures, the new forms of theatre that developed under the influence of Henrik Ibsen. She made us read Elaine Showalter’s groundbreaking Sexual Anarchy, and gave us a lot of space to discuss the texts we read in detail. It is through her that we read Middlemarch in its entirety, and loved it. She made us re-enact scenes from Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession, turning the seminar room into a theatrical space. Above all else, it was a pleasure to hear her read out nineteenth-century poetry— Tennyson, Arnold, the Rosettis. No one could equal that.
She was a most generous lecturer, who was very encouraging when I went on to pursue a PhD. I most vividly remember the lovely card with a ballet dancer on it that she gave me upon my successful viva in Groningen— with the text “Now you should be dancing”. We kept in touch for many years, when meanwhile I had accepted positions in Leiden, then Nijmegen and become a mother. She herself was in many ways an academic “mother” to me who always cared to listen to my experiences, hear about my growing interest in Irish literature and my travels.”
Although a deeply private person, Elizabeth was also generous and helpful to friends and colleagues. Helen Wilcox recalls with gratitude the efforts made by Elizabeth to assist her and her family as they moved to Groningen from Liverpool in 1991, including not only giving information about English-speaking schools for her sons and an orchestra for her to join, but also seeking out details of jazz clubs for her bass-playing husband!
In the course of Elizabeth’s long academic career, she welcomed many new colleagues in the department, some of whom had been her students in years gone by. Irene Visser was among those, and she remembers that when she first arrived in the department as a member of staff, Elizabeth took her under her wing, explaining the complexities of the Harmonie Building and, also, of some of its inhabitants. Elizabeth also kindly agreed to share her room with Irene, who recalls that it was a pleasure to come to work in a room fragrant with Elizabeth’s lovely perfume.
It was very sad that Elizabeth suffered from ill health for such a long period of time. She was not prone to show her personal emotions and, as has already been observed, her privacy was sacred to her. But we all knew how much she struggled underneath. Many people admired her for her bravery and unwavering liveliness despite many setbacks.
In her retirement, Elizabeth found companionship and support in the HOVO discussion group ‘Bewustzijn in Wording.’ There she was well loved and appreciated for her warmth and strength of character. She discovered much comfort and peace in meditation, which she increasingly practiced at the Zen Buddhist Centre in Uithuizen. A Buddhist service will be conducted there for invited guests in her memory. Elizabeth will also be remembered fondly by, among others, many readers of Anglophile.
I’m happiest when most away
I can bear my soul from it’s home of clay
On a windy night when the moon is bright
And my eye can wander through worlds of light
When I am not and none beside
Nor earth nor sea nor cloudless sky
But only spirit wandering wide
Through infinite immensity
Emily Brontë (1838)
(contributed by Marguérite Corporaal)
A wholesome addiction
by Fleur Woudstra
It all started during WW2. At the age of seventeen, my father successfully decided to flee from the Nazis by hiding on a steam train from Amsterdam to Paris in the coal storage department. From there he continued his escape through France towards the Spanish border, where he successfully hiked across the Pyrenees into Spain, ending safely at the Dutch embassy in Madrid. It was his intention to fight the “Krauts” as best as he could.
That’s why the Dutch ambassador decided to send him through Canada and the Dutch Antilles to England, where he eventually arrived in 1943. There he was asked to join the Royal Air Force to be trained as a radio operator on RAF bombers. This involved a long training in and around the Leicester-Nottingham area, where he was introduced to and enjoyed the British way of life. In those days this still meant starting the day with a full English breakfast consisting of fried eggs, baked beans, poached tomatoes and black pudding or bangers. Accompanied by toast and orange marmalade and many cups of very strong black tea with milk. Within a few months’ time, he had also become acquainted with interesting young ladies and the British pub life, where he drank pints of local bitter or a Guinness at cellar temperature together with his mates.
It wasn’t till the end of the war that he was officially permitted to join the crew on bomber planes on which he was in charge of sending the necessary Morse codes. No one got up into the air without the strengthening of a “good strong cuppa” of PG TIPS, he told us. My Dad ended his RAF service after the war by flying special planes over Germany, re-educating former Nazis by forcing them to perceive from high above the tragic ruins and disaster they had caused in their very own country.
At the end of 1945 my father was awarded with the De Groot Kruis der Verdienste by Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Bernhard personally in London, before heading home to his worried mother and little brother who -contrary to his father who’d sadly been murdered by the Nazis in ‘41- fortunately had survived the war.
My father’s stay in England remained to have long lasting impact on our family. PG Tips with lots of milk was the only way to start the day at our home and when -even in the UK- it became modern to drink ice cold beer, my Dad managed to heat up his Guinness by putting a beer warmer filled with boiling water into his pint, so he could enjoy it ‘as usual”.
My Dad desperately decided to write a moving letter to the PG Tips plant in England, explaining how his English war years in the RAF had made him and his family quite dependent on their triangular tea bags. Unilever unfortunately, now owner of the PG Tips company- decided to stop selling this particular tea brand on the continent, which caused a great deal of despair in our family- as you can well imagine. A few weeks later a huge delivery of a vast number of boxes of PG Tips was delivered on our doorstep without any charge, accompanied by a kind letter of appreciation from the company staff.
Why English literature lovers should read Het lied van ooievaar en dromedaris by Anjet Daanje
by Marjan Brouwers
Yes, this is the Anglophile and yes, usually we review unforgettable books written in English by English-speaking authors. But this time I will make an exception for Anjet Daanje, a Dutch author who lives in Groningen. In May 2022 her magnificent novel inspired by Emily Bronte’s life was published by Uitgeverij Passage. On the 10th of November the novel won the prestigious Dutch Boekenbon Award. I promise you: it is a wonderful read.
In school, I used to prefer English and American novels to Dutch ones. Most Dutch novels were very dull in comparison, I found. Studying English only made me neglect Dutch literature even more. But, as I was growing older and somewhat wiser, I found out that not all Dutch novels were boring. I started to read more of them, joined a book club and found a lot to enjoy. More than I had expected. I also met Dutch novelists, read their work and became an author myself.
In March we went on a literary walk of Groningen with Roosmarie Custers as our guide and although this was a very pleasant trip, I found out over drinks afterwards, that most English alumni still prefer English and American novels to Dutch literature. So why on earth would I write an article about a Dutch novel in the Anglophile? Please bear with me for a couple of paragraphs. This book is a masterpiece that will hopefully be translated into English on short notice. It is a work of art that transcends most Dutch (and English) novels.
Anjet Daanje is a novelist whose work remained unnoticed for a long time. Her previous novel, De herinnerde soldaat, about a soldier with amnesia, was published in 2019. She had just transferred from a publishing house in the Randstad to Uitgeverij Passage in Groningen. At the book launch only ten people turned up, including the author and the publisher themselves. And then, all of a sudden, the novel received a jubilant five-star review in the NRC. Next, another reviewer wondered why nobody had paid any attention to Daanje’s work before. The book became a bestseller overnight and is still selling like hot cakes.
Now, Anjet is a rather introverted person, who does not like to be in the spotlight. While her novel was praised all around, she retreated in her Oosterpoort home to write another brick of a novel: Het Lied van Ooievaar en Dromedaris (The Song of Stork and Dromedary), which came out in May 2022. This time, her book launch was packed. Anjet agreed to a few interviews (she really does not like the spotlight), reviews appeared, including another five-star one in NRC, and in no time the first edition was sold out.
So, why would this particular Dutch novel be of interest to you? Because of the Emily Bronte and Wuthering Heights connection, but also because Anjet Daanje is a masterful storyteller, who enjoys taking us on an incredible journey, spanning three centuries, without boring us for a minute. This novel consists of eleven stories, each describes the life of someone connected to Eliza May Drayden, a young woman from Bridge Fowling, a fictional Yorkshire hamlet on the edge of the moors who dies at the start of the book. Each chapter is a short novel in itself, dealing with themes like death, love, sisterhood, obsession, survival and what not. As most reviewers say: it is very hard to pinpoint what this novel is about. It is an incredibly overwhelming reading experience. Some stories are very sad, others are curious or even spooky. When Susan washes Eliza’s dead body in the first chapter, she discovers Eliza’s eyes won’t stay closed. Even worse, her eyes seem to follow Susan as she walks around the room, creeping her out. Later, when Susan watches the funeral, she hears someone pounding inside the coffin. Did Eliza really die?
I finished the book in five days during my summer holidays and I will reread it over Christmas. I am sure I will notice details I missed the first time around. Some of those details I do remember: buzzing flies announcing imminent death, sisters who share an inseparable bond, wild brambles, rain on the heath, wet footsteps on kitchen tiles, mysteriously disappearing corpses, writing novels together and the inevitability of time going by, ultimately leading to death. And in every chapter Eliza plays a part. Every character has somehow been touched or influenced by her.
To conclude: I really loved this novel and it reminded me of the joy I felt reading Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch and Jane Eyre as a student. Which is why I recommend this unforgettable book wholeheartedly!
The founding of the ESC drama society and other random memories (1967 – 1976)
by Rina van Maanen
Like Jan Hink’s memories of the ‘seventies, which we published in our previous issue, Rina van Maanen’s reminiscences reach back to the ‘sixties. They also betray a similar fondness for the amateur theatricals that stirred some spice into student life at the department. Although the English Students’ Club had existed for decades, students’ social lives, including drama performances, were virtually monopolised by ‘Gezelligheidsverenigingen’ such as Vindicat and Magna Pete. The mid-sixties saw a change, which Rina helped to bring about.
I started my English studies in 1966 as an MO student; I remember Jan Posthumus telling me by way of welcome: “We cannot refuse you”……. He did, however, to be fair, come round and was very friendly all through my student days. It was the year when the youngest daughter of our then Queen, Marijke, or Christina as she later called herself, chose Groningen University to take an MO course in Pedagogy.
I met her once: she was also a member of Magna Pete, the female version of Vindicat. I remember watching her trying to negotiate the steps up to the University building, she had very bad eyesight. MacKinnon was standing next to me also watching the progress, or rather the lack of it. His comment had me stunned for a minute: “Thank God it is not a boy”. *
In my first year the ESC drama society was founded, Rudy Bremer had entered the scene as new lecturer and he, if I remember correctly, initiated the whole process. We came together at his flat (at the time it was not at all unusual to meet lecturers at home, or for them to visit students. We did visit MacKinnon with a group of students quite regularly in his digs, for instance). The play that was chosen by Rudy Bremer was Everything in the Garden by Giles Cooper. The play was later adapted by Edward Albee and performed by de Nederlandse Comedie. We rehearsed and performed the play in the original version with Rudy Bremer as director. He wrote in the introduction: “We talk about studies, our work, our income and all the while the world is burning around us….” — not much has changed since 1967, has it?
This was also the time Marleen Gorris entered the scene, she was my understudy as Jenny, the main character in the play. Later she acted under Anthony Davies’ direction in Joe Orton’s Loot. I suppose she was so to speak his discovery! She was the Marleen Gorris that later became the director of the Oscar winning film Antonia.
The big drama for me at the time was the fact that my stage husband Ite Wierenga got cold feet just before the dress rehearsal and quit. To save the production, Rudy Bremer took over; to his credit he did very well, knowing the lines only from the rehearsals… What I did dread however at the time was the kissing scene we had. By way of overcoming this he told me to forget everything around me at the time he would kiss me ….. Jetty de Vries quite unexpectedly came to my support by writing a very kind note wishing me all the best, I still have that note.
My next play (1970) was The Killing of Sister George by Frank Marcus. Performed at Centrum Noord, Moesstraat. Admission: members one guilder! This play had been suggested by Anthony Davies, and the idea was that MacKinnon would direct it. However, it was obvious during rehearsals that it was too much of a challenge for him, so Anthony helped out. He made it quite clear to us what the play was about: “YOU GO TO BED WITH EACH OTHER!” he shouted at Lienke Coldewey, Talea Niezen and myself. Yes, well, that was a territory we had not really investigated or imagined….
The play was adapted for film in 1968, which shows by the way how much Anthony Davies was on trend with his choice! The film with Beryl Reid and Susannah York caused quite a stir with its overtly homosexual scenes; we were relieved that this was Hollywood and had nothing to do with the real drama the play was trying to get across. Anthony was a great help getting us to understand the relationships in the play. Marleen Gorris was a great help as prompter.
Later (1971) we three were on stage together in Women Beware Women, by Thomas Middleton, this was actually at my suggestion. I had seen the play performed at Stratford on Avon in the Globe theatre (standing place and NO sitting down!). I was fascinated, and I suppose also because it was a really bloody tragedy, Anthony was persuaded to direct it and act in it as well. In the end there were about 5 bodies on the stage and when we performed the play in front of an audience of adolescent pupils the laughing started with the first corpse (!) and I was the last to die, I was to commit suicide. Fortunately, they quieted down when I scratched open my face: “A blemished face best fits a leprous soul” … Anthony had my nails covered in bloodred lipstick, it worked.
The performance of Women Beware Women featured a statue, created by Wim Willems et al., of a goat of unmistakable sex. Here we see how Rina van Maanen, Dolf Sörensen, and Hans Slangen each responded to it in their own way
Anthony also directed Hedda Gabler (1972), with Marleen Gorris as Hedda. I do not think he had anticipated the effect of his entrance lines on this particular audience; there he was, Anthony in a suit, his hair neatly combed and this is what he said: “You find me perhaps a bit changed???” We were all in stitches.
Whereas Anthony organized trips along Offa´s Dyke, MacKinnon once (1969) took a group of students, including myself to York University and Campus. It proved to be a tremendous experience, to actually be on campus and live the life of a British student! We witnessed the famous Leavis (Professor Wilkinson and Gerritsen were great fans) jogging along the campus in the morning. However, to my huge surprise a student was rebuked during a lecture when something he said “sounded like Leavis”: his reaction was to excuse himself profusely!
When Leavis actually came to Groningen with his wife, to deliver a lecture, Gerritsen was mortified when Tjerk Busstra asked Leavis to sign his book, but it was obvious Leavis enjoyed the attention. I wonder if Tjerk still has the book…..
MacKinnon inspired me to appreciate Shakespeare; I still have my handwritten essays with his written commentary. We even went to Diever with a group of students and ex-students, with me driving when I had only had my driver´s licence for a week. He assured me he thought I knew what I was doing, which I did, apart from a rather risky overtake!
Van Meurs and MacKinnon were my examiners at the oral exam 18th century literature. To my surprise and delight they gave me a 10. Their justification being, that it was not perfect but excellent and 10 stands for excellent. This comment has stayed with me for the rest of my life as a teacher. Whenever the occasion arose, I took the same attitude, it motivates no end!!
Verleun introduced me to the voice of the counter tenor Alfred Deller when he played the ballad of “The Twa Corbies”. My love for this exceptional type of voice has never ceased and I too have introduced the counter tenor to my students, sometimes to great horrification.
In 1974 the ESC drama society produced The American Dream by Albee, a hilarious piece, where I played the part of Mammy. She was an over-the-top American housewife, bullying her husband: “What did I say, what did I just say?” And he, poor lamb, repeated exactly what she had said, without of course having the slightest idea what she was talking about. It was great fun. My favourite lines were: ………..” I used to let you get on top of me and dump your uglies…” I do not think my American accent, on which I had worked very hard, was very convincing alas!
In 1975 I directed “The Bald Primadonna;” by then I had been offered a “Drama” assistantship at the department of English. I had seen Ionesco´s play in Paris, where it is the longest running one-act play in the world. It has been playing at the theatre of La Huchette since 1957! We had quite a problem on the first night: our “Maid” lost her voice due to a terrible cold. I had to step in, recite her lines while she was on stage performing her part. Since it was such an absurd play, the audience accepted this set-up as fitting!!
The last play (1975) in which I was involved was The Knight of the Burning Pestle by Beaumont and Fletcher, also a very bizarre and grotesque 17th century play. I was the director and we had a great crew. It was an all-students cast: most had not acted before, and although by then I had taken some courses on directing plays, I too was an amateur. I was thrilled to see the way people blossomed on stage. I remember Henk Kloosterman, who was such a treat to watch on stage as he was growing into his role, Paula de Valk was great fun as the citizen´s wife, and of course I was not to know that Maria Goos would turn out to become such a famous script writer, of whom I am a great fan.
I will never forget Fred Adam turning up pretty drunk at one rehearsal, but knowing his lines faultlessly! That is what I call taking your responsibilities towards others seriously!!
We did a school performance in the Oosterpoort, and much to our dismay the next day we found a review of the play in Het Nieuwsblad van het Noorden. Having been advertised as part of Oosterpoort’s regular ‘agenda’ in Het Nieuwsblad, it was reviewed accordingly by that paper’s drama critic. Though aware that we were students and non-native speakers of English, he showed himself very condescending and patronizing.
I later moved to Nijmegen to teach at the Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen. My “drama expertise” (sic) was highly valued there, and I did manage to produce a play every year for at least 25 years with my students.
I look back on five fantastic years as an English student, and some more as an assistant. I discovered literature for which I am still grateful; ‘Beowulf’, (which I later taught myself), Dryden, Pope, (MacKinnon on the ‘Rape of the Lock’, he once asked me, purely out of scientific interest, how long I took over my “Sacred rites of Pride”… **), Swift and Dickens, to name a few, they have been with me all my life. I can only hope that I too have been able to pass on the enthusiasm I received to my students.
* Editor’s note: If the fourth royal child had been a boy, he would have inherited the Dutch throne, taking precedence over his senior sisters.
** This is a phrase from ‘The Rape of the Lock’, describing a young lady’s hairdressing, making-up and dressing rituals.
*** All pictures of performances featured here are from Rina’s collection. Half a century on nobody we asked remembers who took them, so we regretfully cannot give credit where it is due.
Herman Wekker’s portrait unveiled
On the 8th of November nine professor portraits were presented to the Universiity of Groningen in the Senate Room of the Academiegebouw. One of these was the portrait of professor Herman Wekker. He was appointed professor of English Linguistics at the English Department in Groningen in 1987. At the unveiling his family was present.
Professor Wekker died of cancer in January 1997. In his honour the Herman Wekker Award was created. This award is presented every two years to a journalist or a presenter who excels in bringing news and backgrounds from the English-speaking world to the attention of the Dutch public. In 2022 this award was presented to Laila Frank.
Tea Time with home-baked scones
by Fleur Woudstra
|200 g self-raising flour||Baking tray, cooling rack|
|¼ level tsp. salt||Sieve, mixing bowl, plate|
|40 g margarine||Round-bladed knife, tea- & tablespoon|
|40 g sugar||Measuring jug|
|50 g cleaned currants||Pastry board, flour dredger, rolling pin|
|Appr. 100 ml milk||Pastry brush & 5 cm round cutter|
- Heat the oven to 220-250 degrees C. Grease tray.
- Sift the flour & salt into the mixing bowl.
- Cut the fat into small pieces and add to flour.
- Rub in fat with fingertips (picture A) until no lumps are left and the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar and fruit then add the milk 1 tbsp. at a time (picture B), stirring well with a knife until the mixture begins to stick together.
- Using one hand, collect the mixture together (picture C) and knead lightly to form a smooth, fairly soft dough.
- Turn it on to a lightly floured board, form into a flat round shape and roll out until 3cm thick.
- Cut into 5 cm rounds, place on greased baking tray (picture D)and brush tops of scones with a little milk.
- Bake towards the top of the oven for about 10-20 minutes until golden and well risen.
- Remove to the cooling tray and leave until cold. Serve in half with butter or (clotted) cream and jam.
- For a plain scone, omit the fruit.
- Replace the currants by sultanas or chopped dates.
- Leave out the sugar and currants and replace by 50 g grated Cheddar cheese. Extra grated cheese may be sprinkled on top before the scones are cooked.
English bookshops in Groningen
by Marjan Brouwers
Dutch young people don’t like to read. At least, that seems to be the general complaint lately. However, they do like to read English books, especially novels showing Young Adult and Fantasy labels. Online the number of young readers discussing books on Booktok and Goodreads is increasing rapidly. In Groningen two bookshops decided to take advantage of this new trend.
Last summer the owners of Godert Walter Boekhandel in the Oude Ebbingestraat made a deal with the owner of a shop in de Oude Kijk in ’t Jatstraat. She wished to retire, but hoped her shop would not be taken over by yet another trendy cafe, as the street is currently riddled with them. Her wish was granted! In July Walter’s Bookshop opened its doors. The shop sells mostly English books (fiction, poetry, (social) sciences, nature, history and (graphic) Design), postcards, posters and gifts. Located round the corner from the Harmonie as well as the Academiegebouw, this new shop quickly turned into a hotspot for students from all over the world. And of course for former studens of English!
Walter’s Bookshop is an independent shop, using the following disclaimer: ‘Money spent at Walter’s Bookshop will be invested on new books for Walter’s Bookshop, the daily maintenance of loved ones and/or our cats but never on space travel.’
Van der Velde Boeken
This autumn Van der Velde Boeken at the A Kerkhof closed its doors for weeks on end, because of a huge renovation. The reopening on the 29th of October was certainly worth the wait. Especially for people who enjoy browsing books. The shop was enlarged and now includes a lovely downstairs area filled with English books. Rows upon rows of classics, thrillers, modern literature, children’s lit, YA, poetry and more, cozy couches to peruse some volumes: readers’ paradise. Certainly, a reason to visit the shop on your next trip to Groningen!
Van der Velde Boeken A Kerkhof is part of the Van der Velde concern with bookshops in Groningen, Assen, Zwolle, Sneek and Leeuwarden.
Lecture about Hilary Mantel’s work
Well-loved British author Hilary Mantel passed away on the 22th of September this year at the age of 70 years old. To remember her, we would like you to watch Hans Jansen’s lecture on her novel The Mirror and the Light, the third installment of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. This lecture was recorded in 2020.