Jeroen Brouwers


May 17, 2022

Jeroen Godfried Maria Brouwers (Batavia, April 30, 1940 – Maastricht, May 11, 2022) was a Dutch writer, journalist and essayist.


Jeroen Brouwers was the fourth child of Jacques Theodorus Maria Brouwers (1903-1964) and Henriëtte Elisabeth Maria van Maaren (1908-1981). Later another brother was born. His father worked as a bookkeeper at an architectural firm.

Early childhood in the Dutch East Indies

After the Japanese invasion in early 1942 and the capitulation of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army, his father was transferred to a prisoner of war camp near Tokyo. Brouwers first ended up in the Japanese Kramat camp with his grandmother Elisabeth Henrica Pos (1885-1945), his mother and sister. After a few months they were transferred to the Tjideng camp, in a suburb of Batavia. His grandparents did not survive the camps. In 1981 he wrote the book Bezonken red about this Japanese occupation of Indonesia, which was translated into English in 1988 as Sunken Red. His childhood in Indonesia also plays a role in his novels Het Verzonkene and De Zondgoot. These three novels were later released in one volume. After the war, the family was reunited and moved to Balikpapan (then Borneo, present-day Kalimantan). Mrs. Brouwers repatriated with her children by ship to the Netherlands in 1947. In 1948 Brouwers' father also came to the Netherlands.

Teenage years and school days in the Netherlands

Until 1950, Brouwers lived at home with his parents. From the age of ten to sixteen he was placed in various Roman Catholic boarding houses in Limburg, among others. The reason was that he would be an unmanageable child who, after the freedom of the Indies, could not get used to the Dutch straitjacket. Also these boarding school and boarding school experiences at, among others, Boys' boarding school 'St. He incorporated Maria Ter Engelen's Bleijerheide by the Franciscan brothers in Bleijerheide into his work, such as in his novel Het Hout (2014), which was also adapted for the stage in 2018. His parents had since moved to Delft. Brouwers obtained his secondary education diploma there in 1955.

Further life, career and important works and publications

After working for several months in a bank, in the securities department, he served in the military from 1958-1961. He retired as quartermaster of the Special Services: Marine Intelligence Service (MARID). After his military service, he started working in Nijmegen in 1961 as an apprentice journalist for the newspaper group De Gelderlander. He was also a member of the editorial board of the soldier's magazine Salvo. In 1962 he was hired by De Geïllustreerde Pers in Amsterdam. He became a member of the editorial board of Romance (later Avenue) magazine. In 1964 he made his debut with the collection of short stories Het knife op de keel. From 1964 to 1976, Brouwers worked in Brussels as editorial secretary and later as (chief) editor at Uitgeverij Manteau. From 1968 to 1971 he lived with his first wife Nel Berns and two sons Daan Leonard (1965-2006) and Pepijn (1968) in Vossem. In 1970 he has an affair with Anne Walravens ten years younger. Anne's suicide in 1973 is a key moment in Brouwers' work and life. In Huize Krekelbos in Rijmenam (Bonheiden) he wrote his primal manuscript, from which he later extracted many novels. This primal manuscript was later published as In the middle of the journey through my life. After a disagreement with director Julien Weverbergh, Brouwers resigned from Uitgeverij Manteau. He devoted himself entirely to writing. After a period in Warnsveld (near Zutphen) he moved into the Louwhoek house in Exel, near Lochem. In 1979 he married, in 1980 their daughter was born. In 1991, after his wife's divorce, Brouwers settled on a houseboat in Uitgeest. Life on a houseboat is recognizable as an experience in his novel Geheimekamers (2000). In August 1993 he moved to Zutendaal in Belgian Limburg. He had already bought this house in 1990