Jan Jacob Slauerhoff was born in the Dutch town of Leuwarden in 1898. After a childhood plagued by bouts of asthma, he went on to study medicine at university in Amseterdam, where he also began writing poetry. By 1921 his first work had been published - by the end of his life he was regarded as one of the most important writers of poetry and prose in the Dutch language. In 1923, upon graduating from university, Slauerhoff signed up as a ship's surgeon with the Dutch East India Company. Despite poor health, he returned to the sea throughout his life, voyaging many times to the Far East, Latin America and Africa. On his last voyage, to South Africa in 1935, Slauerhoff contracted malaria. He returned to The Netherlands to recuperate, but died in a nursing home in Hilversum in 1936 at the age of thirty-eight.
His personal involvement and his unique style-sometimes clipped and ironic, at other times lyrical and visionary-give his books a place of their own in the history of the novel -- R.P. Meijer Literature of the Low Countries In his prose he is great and irresistible -- Bert Schierbeek De Groene Amsterdammer