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Hendrik Willem Van Loon

1882 - 1944

Henrik Willem Van Loon was a Dutch-American historian, journalist, and award-winning children's book author, best known for his book The Story Of Mankind, which won the first Newbery Award.



Van Loon was born in the Netherlands, but came to the United States in 1902 to study at Cornell University. After graduating from Cornell in 1905 he moved to Germany with his new wife, Eliza Ingersoll Bowditch, the daughter of a Harvard Professor. He received his Ph.D from the University of Munich in 1911. His dissertation was his first published book The Fall Of the Dutch Republic (1913).

He was a correspondent for the Associated Press during the Russian Revolution in 1950 and World War I. From 1915-1917 he lectured at Cornell University.

Van Loon divorced his first wife and in 1920 married Eliza Helen Crisswell. They divorced and in 1927 he married playwright Frances Goodwin Ames. They divorced and he married his 2nd wife, Eliza Helen Crisswell again, and remained married to her until his death in 1944.

Along with writing children's books he was a historian, journalist, and illustrator. He was a prolific writer, publishing over 50 books on many topics from 1913 until after his death, including: Our Battle: Being One Man's Answer to "My Battle" by Adolf Hitler (1938), How to Look at Pictures: a Short History of Painting (1938) and Folk Songs of Many Lands (with Grace Castagnetta) (1938).