Theo Sontrop (1931-2017)

Th.A.L.M. (“Theo”) Sontrop studied French language and literature at the University of Utrecht. He was editor of the Amsterdam student weekly Propria Cures between 1956 and 1959 and made his debut as a poet in 1962 with Langzaam kromgroeien. During his lifetime he published only three more small works of poetry. His Gedichten 1962-1996 has the reputation of being not only one of the most exquisite, but very likely also the smallest volume of collected poetry by a Dutch author. From 1962 to 1971 he lived among a group of young artists and writers in the illustrious villa ‘Jagtlust’ of Fritzi Harmsen van Beek. In 1968 he began working at J.M. Meulenhoff publishers, where he committed himself to new authors like J.M.A. Biesheuvel, Rudy Kousbroek and Gerrit Komrij. In 1972 he became publisher at De Arbeiderspers until his forced retirement in 1991.
Together with Martin Ros he was the driving force behind the success of De Arbeiderspers in the 1970s and 1980s and he introduced new authors like Anna Enquist, Eva Gerlach, F.B. Hotz, Geerten Meijsing and Joost Zwagerman, as well as introducing in translation the works of i.a. Paul Auster, Patrick Modiano, V.S. Naipaul and Fernando Pessoa. He also turned the Privé-domein series into the most prestigious Dutch language library of autobiographical writings, and he established a strong presence for the Arbeiders-imprint in the field of original Dutch and translated poetry. Sontrop, renowned for his knowledge of literature and his one-liners and innumerable literary quotations, moved to the island of Vlieland in 1997, taking his voluminous library with him, and surrounding himself with his books, artworks and objects de vertu.
The items offered for sale in this auction (lot 1-336) form a selection of the highlights of Theo Sontrop’s collection that illustrates his literary taste and the broad range of his interests. Most of all, these works from his extensive collection bear the spiritual imprint of his personality.
Sontrop was a heavy smoker and part of the items bear the results of this (mainly yellowing), which are not mentioned in each individual case; his blindstamp in part of the books is also not always mentioned.