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Wilhelmina Drucker’s first publication was the roman à clef George David, which she wrote together with her sister Louise and which was destined to serve a particular purpose: to set straight the injustice of being virtually excluded, as illegitimate children of a wealthy father – Louis Drucker, who had died in 1884 – from an inheritance that would bring millions to their natural half brothers and sisters. The novel implicitly suggested that Hendrik Lodewijk Drucker, the eldest half-brother, had a murder on his hands, and thus it became an instrument of blackmail to make him give up part of his share and restore justice. G. and E. Prezcier, the aliases the sisters used, ominously echoed the name Drucker: to Dutch ears the quasi Eastern-European surname Prezcier sounds like ‘someone who is pressing’, a synonym of ‘drucker’, but with the extra connotation of ‘extorter’. The way they eventually managed to pull off the scheme and successfully claim their share, and in doing so vanquish double gender standards vis-à-vis illegitimate children, has been addressed before, but this triumph of feminist action, together with its well-played extortion, bears some aspects that have hitherto remained unmentioned.

The novel marked the beginning of a long writing career. Her next steps would include reviews, comments and polemic articles in a range of radical-democratic and socialist periodicals. In 1888, in addition, she founded the weekly De Vrouw (Woman) of which only eight issues were published and only three seem to have survived, but which nevertheless deserves further scrutiny.

Judging from the reviews she wrote during those years, Drucker appears to have been remarkably well read in contemporary French literature with a special interest in naturalistic novels, one of which she even translated in 1890 (Yves Guyot, Scènes de l’enfer social, Paris 1882). Preliminary attempts have been made to track the literary development that shows in Drucker’s stories as well as in the authors who became her intellectual benchmarks and whom she invited to contribute to her periodicals, but the subject remains largely open to exploration.

In 1893 Drucker started her second feminist periodical, Evolutie (Evolution) of which she would remain editor-in-chief until her death in 1925. She closely collaborated with VVV associate Dora Schook-Haver (later: Haver) up until the latter’s death in 1912, and continued with her sister Josephine Baerveldt-Haver until 1919. Finally, she ran Evolutie by herself. The periodical provided the feminist Drucker with a platform to propound her political ideas, to comment on current issues, to keep track of individuals both inside and outside women’s movements, and to repeatedly urge those movements to reflect and act. This makes Evolutie a true treasure-trove: it documents, within the context of actuality, Drucker’s ideas and initiatives as well as the development of the women’s movement for over thirty years.

Drucker further published a host of surveys, pamphlets, articles, and lectures that testify to her radical, secular feminism; especially the articles about the history and development of the VVV and the necrologies of contemporary feminist pioneers she published both in Evolutie and elsewhere, bring out her perceptiveness, knowledge, and appreciation of the life and strife of her subjects.

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  • Published: 29 June 2016
Last modified on 29 June 2016
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