Bilderdijk, Willem (1756–1831)

Dutch lawyer, poet, teacher, arch-conservative and a central figure in the intellectual life of the Netherlands in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. He greatly admired Southey’s poetry and his second wife, Katharina Schweickhardt (1776–1830), translated Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814) into Dutch in 1823–1824. When Southey visited the Netherlands in 1825 he was taken ill and the Bilderdijks nursed him at their home in Leiden. Southey was grateful for their kindness and consideration and publicly praised Bilderdijk on a number of occasions, most extensively in his ‘Epistle to Allan Cunningham’ (1829). Bilderdijk ordered all his papers, including Southey’s letters, to be destroyed after his death, so it is difficult to judge the extent of the two men’s correspondence.

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