Advertisement of 21 November 1856
in Opregte Haarlemsche Courant.
In view of the popularity of Jane Eyre in The Netherlands it is a bit surprising that it took three years before a Dutch translation of Villette was published. Then again, it had become a sleepy country, unlike Belgium. The translator of the work is not given. It was published by J.F.V. Behrns from Harlingen, in the northern province of Friesland. Jan Frederik Valentin Behrns (1830-1883) started publishing, it appears in 1854. Villette was the only literary work he ever did, in 1856, the year he married. It makes one wonder if he did that for his new bride, Aleida Tjeenk Willink. It seems likely that he wrote the introduction, which shows some personal enthusiasm. He concludes with: ‘And herewith the book goes into the world, and we hope also into the heart of many a reader.’ Surely at least one of the newly-wedded couple was a ‘fan’ of the Brontës, and he may well have commissioned the translation.
Villette was still being advertised two years later, on 15 Nov 1859, as a book for “leesgezelschappen”, the Dutch reading societies with which we began this series of articles.