The most famous twentieth-century Dutch writer, Annie M.G. Schmidt was thought of during her lifetime as the “real queen of the Netherlands”. She was a highly original woman with a broad perspective and an unfailing sense of humor. Her radio and TV series, plays and musicals brought her unprecedented popularity. Many of her books have been filmed, and almost everyone in the Netherlands is able to recite at least a line or two from one of her songs or poems. Her children’s books have become a national institution.
Throughout her career – she died in 1995 at the age of 84 – she was showered with accolades, including the Dutch and Austrian national prizes for children’s literature. Her work has appeared in translation all over the world, with the odd exception of the English-speaking countries, where very few of her books have been published. In 1988 the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren presented her with the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the “Nobel Prize” of children’s literature. The jury praised her “ironic tone, witty criticism and style that is amusing, clear, rebellious and simple to its essence.”