Pieter Cornelis Boutens

Biographical information

Full namePieter Cornelis•Boutens (Bouters-)
Used namePieter Cornelis•Boutens
Born20 February 1870 in Middelburg, Zeeland (NED)
Died14 March 1943 in Den Haag (The Hague), Zuid-Holland (NED)
NOC Netherlands


Boutens grew up in a strict-Protestant middle-class environment. In 1890, he began studying classical languages at the University of Utrecht and received his doctorate in 1899 with a study of the Greek comedy writer Aristophanes.

As a poet, Boutens made his debut in 1891 in the Utrecht Student Almanac. He was inspired by the literary group “Beweging van Tachtig” (“The Eighties Movement”), but also by Plato, Sappho, and the Bible. His works were based on the idea of reaching a “higher reality”, approaching “God’s secret”. Homoeroticism is reflected in the Strofen by Andries de Hoghe (1919; enlarged 1932). Boutens himself, however, was not openly homosexual. He did live with a friend, who passed for his domestic servant. Nevertheless, in 1930 he was denied a royal honor because of rumors about his homosexuality.

In 1894, Boutens accepted the position of teacher of classical languages at a boys’ boarding school in Voorschoten, a renowned institution attracting youngsters from aristocratic families. After a physical breakdown in 1904, he settled in Den Haag, giving private lessons and being financially supported by some aristocratic friends.

Boutens made a name for himself in the literary world through the Society of Literature, founded by Karel Joan Lodewijk Alberdingk Thijm. In 1918, he became the Society’s president and successfully fostered a fund for needy writers. On the occasion of the wedding of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard van Lippe-Biesterfeld in 1937, he was commissioned by the government with a special poem. The reception, however, was quite controversial.

The word art and his preference for neologisms were characteristics of his earlier works. Gradually he developed in an entirely individual direction, which was strongly determined by his philosophical perceptions based on the teachings of Plato.

During World War II, Boutens became a member of the Nederlandsche Kultuurkamer, established by the German occupiers. The apolitical poet intended to acquire money for his funds through this membership, but it cast a shadow on his career. He eventually died of colon cancer.


Games Sport (Discipline) / Event NOC / Team Phase Unit Role As
1928 Summer Olympics Art Competitions NED Pieter Cornelis Boutens
Literature, Dramatic Works, Open (Olympic) Final Standings Judge
Literature, Epic Works, Open (Olympic) Final Standings Judge
Literature, Lyric Works, Open (Olympic) Final Standings Judge