Frederike van Uildriks (1854–1919)

Frederike van Uildriks (1854–1919). New Woman, Universal Savant and Popular Scientist in the Netherlands

Mineke Bosch

This project focused on Frederike van Uildriks as the author of an enormous and varied output of books and articles, literary reviews, comments, and fictional stories, many of which were on subjects relating to "nature," in more than 40 papers and periodicals, ranging from general cultural journals, family weeklies, popular science publications, and critical political journals. An analysis of her life and work that until recently remained largely unknown reveals that an important aspect of her formative career as a secondary school teacher and publicist was in her self-education and her taking up the old art of common-placing. From publishing reviews in a paper she developed into a part-time publicist on a wide range of subjects. This changed in 1891, when she entered a common-law marriage. In the home-based isolated life that followed she not only took to heart the physical challenges of the new woman’s life in the form of biking, hiking, canoeing, and swimming, she also developed from a polymath-like publicist into a professional author who had to live from her pen. Gradually she became a successful nature study writer who fashioned herself into an independent scholar by propagating the art of self-willed "hobby study" as an important supplement to professional, specialized expert knowledge. Due to the combination of such varied repertoires as the new woman, the universal savant, and the popular science writer to construct a trustworthy scholarly identity beyond the academy she escaped the attention of the gendered and fragmented frames of many historians.