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Short biography
Anna Helena Margaretha (known as Annie) Verschoor was the daughter of a naval officer who took his family to his posting in the Dutch colony of Java, Indonesia from 1906 to 1910. They returned to the Netherlands in 1911 and Annie passed her state exams to enter the University of Leiden to study literature and history. She made her formal debut as a writer in the student journal Minerva, to which she contributed many articles. Her writing explored themes such as censorship, feminism, patriarchal authority, and the perverting effect of colonial rule. The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a spur to her student idealism and desire for innovation. Annie immersed herself in Marxist teachings and was active in revolutionary organizations of students and intellectuals, before joining the Communist Party in the Netherlands in 1920 (she would quit the Party about 7 years later). That same year, she married Jan Romein, a fellow history student. The couple settled in Amsterdam and had three children. Annie Romein-Verschoor earned her Ph.D. from Leiden with a dissertation on a literary-sociological study of Dutch novelists after 1880, published under the title Woman Mirror (1935), which won the prestigious Wijnaendts-Francken Prize. She played a role in anti-Fascist organizations of the 1930s, and during World War II she was involved in the clandestine press. She wrote several books with her husband, including The Low Countries by the Sea (1934) and Testators of Our Civilization (1938-1940, four volumes). Both earned critical acclaim and brought the authors national fame. She also wrote works independently, including a children's book and an historical novel. In 1946, Annie Romein-Verschoor received a copy of Anne Frank's diary, which she tried to have published. When she was unsuccessful, she gave the diary to her husband, who wrote the first article about it and its author; interest raised by this article led to the diary being published the following year. In 1951, Annie and Jan spent a year in Indonesia, where Jan was a visiting professor at the University of Jakarta; Annie reported on her experiences in the newly-independent country.
After her husband's death in 1962, Annie Romein-Verschoor completed the final fruit of their long collaboration, a history of Europe during the period from 1889 to 1914 called The Watershed of Two Eras: Europe in 1900, and arranged to have it published. Her sensational two-part autobiography, Looking Back in Wonder (1970-1971) became a bestseller.
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