van Stockum, Hilda (b. 1908)

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van Stockum, Hilda (b. 1908)

Dutch-born American writer and illustrator. Name variations: Hilda Van Stockum. Born on February 9, 1908 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; daughter of Abraham John van Stockum and Olga (Boissevain) van Stockum; married Ervin Ross Marlin, on June 27, 1932; children: Olga; Brigid; Randal; Sheila; John; Elisabeth.

The career of children's writer Hilda van Stockum also includes book illustration, portrait painting, teaching, and translation. Born in the Netherlands, as a child van Stockum and her family traveled extensively with her father, a navy officer. After stays in Paris, the East Indies, and Switzerland, the family settled in Ireland, where van Stockum studied at the Dublin School of Art. She continued her education at the Amsterdam Academy of Art. Returning to Ireland in 1931, she worked as an art teacher and professional portrait painter, and also began illustrating children's books.

In 1932, she married E.R. Marlin, an American aviator, and moved to New York City, where she taught at a Montessori school. In 1934, van Stockum wrote and illustrated her first children's novel, A Day on Skates: the Story of a Dutch Picnic, which received the prestigious Newbery Honor Award in 1935. She then moved to Washington, D.C., and taught art and writing at the Institute of Lifetime Learning, while continuing to write herself. She became a U.S. citizen in 1936.

After a brief period of study at the Corcoran School of Art in 1937, van Stockum and her husband moved to Canada, where she concentrated on writing and illustrating her children's books, over 20 in all. Her books, set in Ireland, the U.S., and Holland, draw heavily on her childhood experiences as well as on her own children, and are recognized for their sensitive portrayal of her young characters. She also continued to illustrate for other authors, and translated numerous children's books into English. Van Stockum is also well known for her paintings, mainly still-life and portraiture, which were exhibited in one-woman shows from Dublin to the Netherlands to the U.S. from the 1950s to the 1970s. She and her husband returned to Washington in the 1960s, where she became president of the Children's Book Guild. In the 1980s, van Stockum retired to Hertford-shire, England.


Chevalier, Tracy, ed. "Hilda van Stockum" in Twentieth Century Children's Writers. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: St. James Press, 1989.

Commire, Anne, ed. "Hilda Van Stockum," in Something About the Author. Vol. 5. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1973.

Laura York , M.A. in History, University of California, Riverside, California