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Vasalis Gender: F
Margaretha Leenmans
born on 13 February 1909 at 05:30 (= 05:30 AM )
Place Den Haag, Netherlands, 52n05, 4e19
Timezone LST m4e53 (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Schepel
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 23°53' s_mo.18.gif s_scocol.18.gif 20°14 Asc.s_capcol.18.gif 10°32'

photo: Rob C. Croes / Anefo, license cc-by-sa-3.0


Dutch poet, writer and child psychiatrist.

The pen name Vasalis of the celebrated poet Margaretha Droogleever Fortuyn-Leenmans was the latinized version of her maiden name Leenmans. It was first written as M. Vasalis. Her father Hendrik Arie ("Hal") Leenmans (8 Augustus 1876, Slochteren - 29 September 1954, Den Haag) was an erudite Ph.Dr. history teacher and used the pseudonym "de vazal" in his youth poetry. Her mother Louise Ernestine Creutzberg (2 October 1876, Woudenberg - 1969) became an insurance agent in 1906, when her two children went to school. Vasalis, nickname Kiek, was the youngest and her sister was named Ank (1906-1977).

She had a happy youth at the sea side The Haque and kept good relations with her parents and sister. Her parents were Dutch Reformed liberal (vrijzinnig) socialists with a broad cultural interest that invited likely minded politicians and writers at home. She studied medicine at Leiden University (1927-1932), later anthropology and specialised in the then not yet split disciplines of neurology and psychiatry. In 1934 she started as a junior physician in the psychiatric hospital Santpoort. She also started writing her first poetry which she send to her colleague and writer Simon Vestdijk, the editor of the periodical Groot Nederland. Here she debuted with five poems (Aug 1936). Vestdijk and critics like Menno ter Braak were very impressed by her work.

At the same time she got rheumatological complaints that forced her to stop her study. From the end of 1936 till August 1937 she went to Melton Wold Guest Farm, a guest house and sheep farm in South Africa to recover. In 1938 she worked as a physician in the Wilhelmina Gasthuis (WG) at Amsterdam. Here she met neurologist Jan Droogleever Fortuyn (R'dam, 12 April 1906 - Arnhem, 10 Jan 1999), whom she married 3 March 1939. They got four children: In April 1940 her daughter Lous, April 1942 her son Dick and in the hunger winter of 1944 her son Hal. The year 1943 was a very difficult year ("hellig jaar"). Her son Dick died end 1943 of polio, her husband Jan got a psychosis (three months admission) and the Nazi's deported Jewish friends and patients. In 1947 she got a daughter named Maria. In 1951 they moved to Groningen as Jan was appointed as a professor in neurology at Groningen University (1951-1976). She worked as a child psychiatrist in Assen and Groningen.

She died 16 October 1998 in her house between the woods in Roden which she acquainted in 1964.

Work and other facets

Already in Leiden Vasalis was friend with prominent poets like J.C. Bloem and Adriaan Roland Holst. In Amsterdam she met poet Bertus Aafjes, who wrote his in 1948 published Egyptian letters to her. She became the psychiatrist and friend of Gerard Reve and wrote speeches for Queen Juliana, whom she first met when they both studied in Leiden. She corresponded with her publisher Van Oorschot; whwn she found out that Van Oorschot kept her letters to be published later, she demanded him to destroy them.

She debuted as a writer in 1940 with the short novel "Onweer" (Thunder), shortly followed by the poetry bundle "Parken en woestijnen" (Parks and Deserts). In the year 1940 the Netherlands were occupied by the Germans. In 1947 she published the poetry bundle "De vogel Phoenix" (The bird Phoenix) which thematically deals with the loss of a child. End 1954 the poetry bundle "Vergezichten en gezichten" (Views and Faces) appeared.

Vasalis was very critical about what she published and she kept most of her thoughts for herself. She wrote sober about simple everyday happenings, but in a lyrical way with seemingly many layers. A biographer called her the greatest Dutch poet, with the smallest oeuvre (only three bundles). But what she published was from the start (Parks and Deserts) to end (Views and Faces) of outstanding quality and she won the major Dutch awards with it.

End 1954, after "Parken en woestijnen" (Parks and Deserts), she suddenly stopped publishing. Though she was after that awarded with the stimulating Poetry Prize of Amsterdam in 1957, the Culture Prize of Groningen in 1963, the Constantijn Huygens Prize (1974) for all her work and in 1982 the prestigious P.C. Hooft Prize, she had the idea that she had finished he work with "Views and Faces" and the to her accredited worldly fame was only a hamper to her. Her audience had great expectations of her almost expected Messianic (in Christian circles she was adored) fourth bundle, but she was reluctant to publish under this pressure any more poetry. She became also very critical about most of her so by others celebrated former work. As her Christian admirers saw so many things in her poetry, but she had no affinity with their other world.

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  • business associate/partner relationship with Oorschot, G.A. van (born 15 August 1909). Notes: her publishor, correspondence
  • friend relationship with Aafjes, Bertus (born 12 May 1914). Notes: Egyptische brieven (1949)
  • friend relationship with Bloem, J.C. (born 10 May 1887)
  • friend relationship with Reve, Gerard (born 14 December 1923). Notes: Friend and psychiatrist of Reve
  • (has as) protégé relationship with Vestdijk, Simon (born 17 October 1898). Notes: Published her debut in Groot Nederland


  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released August 1936 in Amsterdam (Five poems in Groot Nederland)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Marriage 3 March 1939 in Amsterdam (Jan Droogleever Fortuyn)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1940 (Onweer , Parken en woestijnen)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released December 1954 (Vergezichten en gezichten (Views and Faces))
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : End a program of study November 1957 (Announced the end of Vasalis to Publisher Geert van Oorschot)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Schepel quotes Municipal Archive in Sterrentijd #3 (1 March 1990)

The Low Countries. Jaargang 5 · dbnl: Seven Poems by M. Vasalis


  • Personal : Religion/Spirituality : Metaphysical (Wrote to Gerard Reve about her mystical experiences.)
  • Vocation : Medical : Physician (Neurologist and (child) psychiatrist)
  • Vocation : Writers : Poet
  • Notable : Extraordinary Talents : For Languages (spoke many languages and great poet)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession (celebrated poet)