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A world at war: Lovelings war diary 1914-1918

Virginie Loveling was 78 when World War I broke out. From day one, she kept a diary as a curious, opinionated witness. She knew this was forbidden, but wanted to pass on her experience to the world at all costs. Almost every day, she wrote down her findings. She often used her advanced age as an excuse to walk in streets at night, where she was in fact forbidden to go. Everything was kept on small, chequered sheets of paper, which were sewn together in packages with thread and hidden all over the house. Once, she was checked and searched all the way into her sewing basket. Without luck!

Thanks to her will executor Maurice Basse, the manuscript, along with other ego documents, was deposited in the Ghent University Library. There it remained for years in a green box in the basement with its silent, biggest fan Antonin Van Elslander. Until in 1999, through his encouragement and with the support of KANTL, it was published for the first time as a text edition. It proved such a revelation that Meulenhoff Manteau published an edited and abridged edition in 2005 and Bezige Bij in 2013. The Book Tower is opening up the full text of the diary in its online catalogue.

The war diary was recognised as a Flemish Masterpiece and is one of the 52 masterpieces in our heritage collection.