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Hendrik Willem van Loon was born in 1882, in the Netherlands. He spent most of his life in America. Besides writing children's books (he won the first Newbery ever awarded), he was a journalist, a historian, an illustrator, a radio commentator, history professor at various US universities, and an assistant editor of the Baltimore Sun in the 40s.

One of van Loon's ancestors was a close friend and personal physician of Rembrandt, and kept careful notes on the artist's life and work. These notes were later discovered by van Loon; he worked them into a comprehensive biography of the artist, The Life and Times of Rembrandt van Rijn.

Van Loon helped Rachel Carson get her start (pity I don't know who that is) - after reading her work, he met with his Simon and Schuster editor, and convinced them to publish her. Under the Sea Wind debuted in 1941 to critical acclaim in both literary and scientific circles. Thanks, Henrik!

In addition to illustrating his own work, he also illustrated a biography of Desiderius Erasmus, as well as The Wonder Book of Travellers' Tales, a compendium of mythical animals, published in 1942.

Here's a wackyness: in 1933, Parker Brothers made a board game called "Hendrik Van Loon's World Wide Game." It was apparently a travel-themed game, as pieces included planes, steamships, and "WIDE WORLD TICKETS."

Van Loon died in 1944.


"The history of the world is the record of man in quest of his daily bread and butter."

"The arts are an even better barometer of what is happening in our world than the stock market or the debates in congress."

"Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession - their ignorance."

"High up in the North in the land called Svithjod, there stands a rock. It is one hundred miles high and one hundred wide. Once every thousand years a little bird comes to this rock to sharpen its beak. When the rock has thus been worn away, then a single day of eternity will have gone by."


The Arts

The Life and Times of Rembrandt van Rijn

The Story of Mankind (1922 Newbery Award)

Van Loon's Lives

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