Rebel with a Cause

Dutch Children’s Author Miep Diekmann as the Personification of ’68


  • Helma van Lierop-Debrauwer



The rebellious spirit of 1968 was characterised, among other things, by a strong aversion to authority of any form. In Dutch children’s literature, this spirit is personified by the author Miep Diekmann. From the end of the 1950s until the end of the 1980s, Diekmann contested all kinds of social injustice, both in her children’s books and in her critical work. This article discusses how she challenged the status quo in Dutch children’s literature, firstly through her efforts to improve the cultural status of children’s literature, and secondly through writing books with a different view of the world than the one with which children were then familiar. In interviews, reviews, and discussions with politicians, she successfully appealed for more academic and critical attention for books for young readers. With her children’s books she wanted to make her readers think independently about all kinds of social injustice. Whereas in her first books a tension can be observed between her ambition to make children aware of forms of inequality and her intention to let her reading audience judge for themselves, in her later novels, in particular in De dagen van olim, [The Days of Yore] (1971), she presents social injustice in a way that leaves more to the imagination of her readers.