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Portrait Belle van Zuylen

House of Belle van Zuylen

Kromme Nieuwegracht 3/5

Belle and the letters — You are standing in front of what was once the winter home of Belle van Zuylen, who was actually called Isabella van Tuyll van Serooskerken (1740-1805). During the summer months the van Zuylen family lived in Slot Zuylen, on the Vecht. Belle actually felt more comfortable there – despite that she was further away from her cherished music teacher Van Rijn in Zonstraat and from bookseller Spruyt in Choirstraat. When her brothers would bring the carriage with them, it still would have been at least an hour's walk.

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Belle van Zuylen is not just an important woman in European literary history, but also for the University: after Anna Maria van Schurman, she was the second woman to receive education from professors (such as mathematics and physics with L. Praalder and J.D. Hahn) in Utrecht. This contributed to her reputation as an independent thinker. Once she started publishing - almost always in French - and especially after she left for Neuchâtel with her Swiss husband in 1771, that reputation reached more and more people. For example, the famous Madame de Staël was eager to get in touch with her. But Isabelle de Charrière (as Belle was now called) held back a little: she wanted to follow her own path.

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