University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections

Jan de Hartog Papers, 1943-2005

Descriptive Summary

Creator: De Hartog, Jan, 1914-2002
Title: Jan de Hartog Papers
Dates: 1933-1979
Abstract: Jan de Hartog (1914-2002) was a Dutch born author and playwright. The Jan de Hartog Papers consist of manuscript material, correspondence, scrapbooks, photos and other material documenting De Hartog's life and career. The papers are divided into three series: Works, The Hospital Materials, and Career.
Identification: 1967-002
Quantity: 4 boxes and 3 oversized boxes; 7 linear feet
Repository: Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

Biographical Note

Jan de Hartog was born in Haarlem, Netherlands on April 22, 1914. His father, Arnold Hendrik, was a theologian; his mother, Lucretia Meijjes de Hartog, a scholar of medieval mysticism. He attended Amsterdam Naval College, and worked as a sailor, war correspondent and naval inspector before achieving success as an author and playwright.

Although de Hartog published five detective novels under the pseudonym F. R. Eckmar in the 1930's, his first noteworthy work was the novel Holland's Glorie (1940). Published in Dutch 10 days before the outbreak of the Second World War, the work sold over one million copies and was regarded as an essential expression of Dutch identity in wartime. The book made him a public figure in the Netherlands, and he used this platform to speak out against German occupation. In early 1942, de Hartog was forced to go into hiding and eventually fled the Netherlands under threat of arrest. After a lengthy journey across Western Europe, he arrived in England in July, 1943.

De Hartog spent the next decade in England, writing novels and plays in English. In 1946, he married Angela Priestly, daughter of English writer J.B. Priestly. One of his first English language works was the play Skipper Next to God, about a captain carrying European Jews to the United States. It debuted in London in 1945 and was later performed on Broadway. The 1951 comedy The Four Poster brought de Hartog his broadest and most enduring success. After runs in London and American repertory theater, its Broadway run, starring Hume Cronin and Jessica Tandy, earned the 1952 Tony award for Best Play. De Hartog collaborated on a French adaptation with the writer Collette, and the work was later adapted as a musical, I Do I Do!, and a television play. His novels of this period included The Lost Sea (1951), The Little Ark (1951), and A Sailor's Life (1955).

His marriage to Marjorie Mein in 1961 led de Hartog to become a Quaker. The couple lived on a 146-ton houseboat for several years before marrying, and first came to Houston on boat travel. In 1962, Jan assumed a residency in playwriting at the University of Houston, during which time the couple volunteered at Jefferson Davis Hospital. As a volunteer, de Hartog was exposed to the horrible conditions facing patients and staff at Harris County's charity hospital. His work, The Hospital, exposes the conditions and treatment received by patients at Jefferson Davis Hospital (later renamed Ben Taub Hospital). His book received national acclaim, drawing attention to needed changes in the charity hospital system in Houston. In the wake of The Hospital's publication, the de Hartogs became a target of threats and unwanted harassment which ultimately led to the couple leaving Houston in 1964.

The de Hartogs remained active in progressive social causes, using the proceeds from The Hospital book to finance aide programs. Further involvement in peace and social justice efforts lead the couple to become advocates of charity to Korean and Vietnamese war orphans, and in the process they adopted two Korean children. He chronicled these events in the 1969 work, The Children.

De Hartog's long and varied career also included having several works adapted for the screen. His novel, Stella (1951), was adapted for the screen with Sophia Loren and William Holden, as was The Spiral Road (1957), which starred Rock Hudson. His other notable works included novels The Captain (1967), The Commodore (1986), a trilogy fictionalizing the history of the Society of Friends- The Peaceable Kingdom (1972), The Lamb's War (1980) and The Peculiar People (1992), The Centurion (1989), and The Outer Buoy (1994).

The de Hartogs returned to Houston in 1993. In 2002, Jan was presented with an Hononary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University of Houston. Jan de Hartog died September 22, 2002.

Scope and Contents

The Jan de Hartog Papers, 1943-2005, consist of manuscript material, correspondence, scrapbooks, photos and other material documenting the life and career of Jan de Hartog (1914-2002). The papers are divided into three series: (1)Works, (2) The Hospital Materials, and (3) Career.

The Works series contains manuscript material, including notes, manuscript and typescript drafts, galley proofs, play scripts, television scripts and dictation tapes for The Captain, The Hospital, William and Mary and various other works. The Captain subseries includes notes, various typescript drafts of the work, the publisher's copy of the work, galley proofs, tape recordings, and page proofs. Many of these items are heavily edited by either the author or the copy editor. The Hospital subseries contains notes, outlines, drafts, and galley proofs of the work. Additional documents relating to the response to The Hospital and to Jan and Marjorie de Hartog's work at Jefferson Davis Hospital is included in The Hospital Materials series.

The Hospital Materials series includes notes, clippings, speeches, correspondence, photos and scrapbooks related to the de Hartogs' Hospital volunteer work at Jefferson Davis Hospital as well as the publication of and response to de Hartog's 1964 book, The Hospital. Outgoing correspondence is arranged by date; incoming correspondence is arranged alphabetically. An index of correspondents is available; contact Special Collections for more information.

The career series contains clippings, correspondence and commemorative material related to de Hartog's writing, teaching, and theatrical productions. Books, personal effects, and sound and video recordings have been removed from the papers and cataloged separately. They are accessible through the UH Libraries online catalog in the subfield of "Jan De Hartog Papers".


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use Restrictions

Researchers may not photocopy materials without written permission from the Jan de Hartog Estate. Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian..

Index Terms

Terms are either Library of Congress Subject Headings or taken from local sources.


De Hartog, Jan, 1914-2002
De Hartog, Marjorie

Subjects (Organizations)

University of Houston
Ben Taub General Hospital
Jefferson Davis Hospital (Houston, Tex.)


Typescript Drafts
Galley Proofs
Manuscript Drafts

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Jan de Hartog Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.


This collection was donated to the University of Houston Libraries by Jan and Marjorie DeHartog in 1967, with additional accessions in 1970, 1999, and 2005.

Processed by

Debbie Hernandez, 1993, Andrea Bean Hough, 1997 and Amelia Abreu, 2006

Detailed Description of the Papers


I. Works, 1943-1979 and undated

1 The Captain, 1940-1966 and undated
Early Draft as The Professor, 1950
Typescript, undated
Notes, undated
Early Draft as Tug of War, undated
"Notes on the Arctic", undated
"Working Notes", undated
"Resume and Project Notes", undated
"Final Work Sheets", undated
1 "Corrective Notes", undated
1 "Jan's Corrected Copy", Typescript with corrections, 1966
Carbon copy with corrections, 1966
2 Publisher's copy, photocopy, 1966
Tape 1 "Tug of War,, read by the author, sides 1&4", audiotape, 1966
Tape 2 "Tug of War,read by the author, sides 2&3", audiotape, 1966
OS 1 The Captain, (1966)
Galley Proofs, 1966
First page proofs, 1966
Second page proofs, 1966
2 "Tape recording sample", typescript 1968
The Captain (Screenplay), photocopy with corrections, undated
The Hospital, 1962-1965 and undated
2 "Jefferson Davis Emergency Room - a record", Typescript with annotations, 1962-1963
2 "Notes and Work Plan", 1963
"Worksheets", 1963
First draft, carbon copy, 1963
First draft, carbon copy with corrections, 1963
Second draft, carbon copy with corrections, 1963
Final draft, carbon copy with corrections, 1963
3 Printer's proof, carbon copy with corrections, 1964
Printer's proof, carbon copy with corrections, 1964
"Throw-outs", typescript with corrections, carbon copy with corrections, 1963-1964
"Final revision", typescript, 1963-1964
Uncorrected proof, 1964
Other Works, 1943-1979 and undated
The Artist (Story), photocopy with corrections, undated
The Bomb (Story), typescript, undated
The Four Seasons (Notes), photocopy with corrections, undated
The Great Fire (Story), photocopy, 1979
My Lord, What a Morning and Little Doris (Story), photocopy, 1943
Miracle of the Seahorse (Play), photocopy, undated
Native in a Nightshirt (Story), typescript, 1962
Now Let Us Try What Love Will Do (Television Script)
Script , photocopy, undated
Notes on locations in Philadelpia, photocopy, undated
Red Cement (Play)
Script segment, photocopy, 1978
Letter to Robert Everding, photocopy, 1978
The Rose Revived(Play), photocopy undated
Skipper Next to God (Play)
"First English version", photocopy, 1945
"Possible later version", photocopy, undated
"Letter to Bob Everding", photocopy, 1979
"Stage Plan", photocopy, 1979
Maitre Apres Dieu (Screenplay), photocopy, undated
4 Young Bass of Outstanding Volume: Preface to Skipper Next to God, photocopy, undated
Two Wartime Stories: Skim Milk and Little Finger, photocopy 1943
A View of the Ocean (Story), photocopy, 1943
William and Mary: Story of a Marriage (Play)
"In two acts", photocopy, 1963
"In three acts", photocopy, 1963
"Worksheets", typescript with corrections, 1963
"Final Script", typescript, [ca. 1963]
"Radio Script", typescript, 1968


II. The Hospital Materials, 1962-1966 and undated

4 Scrapbooks, 1962-1964 and undated
OS 2 "Houston"
4 Dust jacket and packaging, 1964
Clippings, 1964
Television transcripts, 1964
Radio transcripts, 1964
Church calendar, 1964
Meeting minutes, 1964
"Debbie and Gus to JDH", telegram 1964
ZestMagazine, 1964
OS 3 "US and Abroad"
4 Newspaper Clippings, 1964-1965
Magazine Clippings, 1964-1965
Publicity Materials, 1964-1965
Carey-Thomas Award Certificate, 1965
OS 4 "Holland"
4 Clippings 1965 and undated
Miscellaneous and duplicate clippings, photocopies, 1964-1989, undated
Live Oak Friends Meeting, 1962-1965
Capping Address, 1964
Address to the Ben Taub Nurses' Aides Corps, 1964
Address to the Jefferson Davis School of Nursing, undated
"Hospital Speech" cue cards, undated
4 Correspondence
4 Outgoing Correspondence, 1963-1966
Incoming Correspondence, 1964-1966
Unidentified correspondents and fragments
Mutual of Omaha Criss Award Correspondence 1966-1967
Jan de Hartog in Red Cross volunteer uniform, undated
Marjorie de Hartog in Red Cross volunteer uniform, undated
In frame Marjorie de Hartog with infant, undated
4 Miscellaneous
"Hospital and Community", typescript, undated
Red Cross, Houston-Harris County Chapter, pamphlets, 1964, undated
"Handbook for Volunteers: Houston-Harris County Chapter American Red Cross Nurses' Aide" undated
"The Trojan Women, Benefit Premiere for Citizen's Fund for Voluntary Nursing", theater program, 1964
Mercy Fund List of Contributors, carbon copy, undated


III. Career, 1962-2005 and undated

4 "Outline for a program for a dramatic workshop, University of Houston", typescript, 1962
Clippings, 1962-1967 and undated
Marsha and Warren Hollman, 1988
Compassion and the Art of Medicine, Response from medical students, manuscript, typescript, 1994
Plaque inscription, note from Marjorie de Hartog, 2005