The impossible love of an author

The Dekemastate in Jelsum, Province of Friesland, has a showcase full of books of the Dutch journalist, translator and writer Havank. He published over 30 crime-novels and stories and is one of the founding fathers of Dutch crime books. What are these books doing here? Havank’s real name was Hendrikus Frederikus van der Kallen (1904-1964), named Hans in daily life. He was married, unhappily, to the British Cynthia Vickers 1946-1964, and remained childless. She wasn’t the biggest love of his life.

He befriended Jan and Gerard van Wageningen, residents of the Dekemastate, in 1953. During the years 1958-1963 Havank regularly stayed at the house and loved the atmosphere of the old house with its peaceful garden. There was however one thing that fascinated him most: The portrait of Anna Maria van Burmania (1733-1808) that was painted in 1754 by Bernardus Accama. Anna Maria van Burmania was born as daughter of Jetzo Idzard van Burmania and Juliana Lucia van Doys. She never married. The portrait can still be seen in the main room next to the hall at the Dekemastate.

Havank was very impressed by her face, her eyes and the challenging gesture of her right index finger. The eyes will follow you all through the room. Anna Maria became his obsession and he even called it a “love affair beyond time”. She even appeared in his two last books, Caviaar en cocaïne (1958) and Menuet te middernacht, as Anne-Marie comtesse de Passy et de Limoillet. Even if he wasn’t at the Dekemastate he always took two photos of Anna Maria with him. When he died he was buried with a reproduction of the portrait in the coffin, as he had wished.

In the museum shop of the Dekemastate a booklet from 2017, with the full story of Havank’s stay at the Dekemastate, can be bought.

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