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Leonieke Vermeer door Sander Heezen

Leonieke Vermeer

NIAS fellow

Project title

The Autobiography of a Queen: Biographer’s Goldmine or Pitfall?

Research question

How can methodological reflections on the autobiography of Sophie of Württemberg (1818-1877) provide deeper insights into the role of queens in the bourgeois monarchy?

Project description

This project centers on the biography of Sophie of Württemberg (1818-1877), queen consort of the Dutch king William III. This biography is part of the larger research project ‘Four Dutch Queens in a Time of Nation Building (1774-1934)’, aiming to publish comprehensive biographies of these four queens, originated in German and Russian royal houses.

One of the most fundamental, methodological issues in biographical writing is how to deal with autobiographical texts as complex historical sources. The autobiography of Sophie of Württemberg (1818-1877), queen consort of the Dutch king William III, presents an outstanding case study for exploring this conundrum. For a biographer, her autobiography and other forms of self-narrating are both a goldmine and a pitfall. These ego-documents provide insights into her life experiences and personal perspective, but they also run the risk of reinforcing her own self-created stories or myths.

The NIAS-fellowship allows Leonieke Vermeer to complete the biography and simultaneously developing a new methodological framework for autobiography. In sum, this project enhances our understanding of queens’ roles in the bourgeois monarchy.

Selected publications

  • Leonieke Vermeer, ‘From Diaries to Data Doubles: Self-Tracking in Dutch Diaries (1780–1940)’. Life Writing 19, nr. 2 (2022): 215–240. https://doi.org/10.1080/14484528.2021.1971057
  • Leonieke Vermeer, Alpita de Jong, Petra van Langen & Monica Soeting. ‘Nederlandse koninginnen als dynastieke netwerkers’. In L. Heerma van Voss, N. Bouras, M. ‘t Hart, M. van der Heijden, & L. Lucassen (Eds.), Nog meer wereldgeschiedenis van Nederland (Amsterdam: Ambo/Anthos, 2022): 331–337.
  • Leonieke Vermeer. ‘Stretching the Archives. Ego-documents and Life Writing Research in the Netherlands: State of the Art’. BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review 135, nr. 1 (2020): 31–69. https://doi.org/10.18352/bmgn-lchr.10784