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War diary 1914-1918

The war diary of Virginie Loveling is a rare first-person account from a female author. Loveling was a highly esteemed writer who, as early as 1892, was the laureate of the Five-Yearly Prize for Dutch Literature and was also knighted in the Order of Orange-Nassau. As a grande dame of Flemish literature, Loveling began her diary on 29 July 1914, a rigorous endeavour she maintained until 2 December 1918. During the occupation, this was a completely illegal activity, and one that was 'perilous to her person'. The challenging preservation conditions, where 'signatures' had to be hidden because no one was allowed to know she was working on this, have left their marks on the manuscript. Due to the war conditions, Virginie Loveling also used any paper she could get her hands on to jot down her myriad of impressions. As a literary figure, she continued to refine the text, leading to a variety of additions, resulting in numerous small papers that were sewn or glued on. This process was repeated and intensified when she began to prepare parts of the diary for publication after the war, which also led to confusing renumbering of sections. All this makes this unique manuscript an exceptional artifact with many challenges in its preservation and especially in its digitisation. The content is not autobiographical, but rather a testimony of the war years in the main town of the Etappengebiet under German occupation. The diary provides an exceptionally rich account of the human relations and daily survival during wartime in Ghent and its surroundings. The war diary holds artistic value as a pinnacle in the oeuvre of Virginie Loveling. As a lasting indictment of the madness of war, it remains, in a sense, sadly relevant for new generations.

Universiteit Gent
Virginie Loveling (Author)
Rights status
Public domain
  • Inventory number cp: HS.4115
  • Masterpiece ID: 541
  • Format: manuscript
  • Number of folios: 1882
  • Dimensions: 148 x 210 mm
  • Material: paper

Source: Virginie Loveling (Author), 1914-1918, War diary 1914-1918, Universiteitsbibliotheek Gent-Boekentoren, Public domain