23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Maritgen Matter

Maritgen Matter was born in 1962 in the Hanseatic city Zutphen in the Netherlands. As a child she already developed a strong affinity for music, theatre, literature, storytelling and drawing, which would lead to her work as an illustrator, graphic designer, columnist and author. She dropped out of her studies at the Arts Academy in Arnhem, frustrated and disappointed by the course. Following teacher training, she studied art and design at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, where she was admitted directly into the second year. Maritgen Matter has worked as a freelance illustrator for various publishers since 1989 and continues to pursue several literary, journalistic, musical, graphical and theatrical projects at the same time; she is a multi-talented artist who is active in many fields.

The manuscript for her only published children’s book to date, »Schaap met laarsjes« (2002, Eng. »Sheep with boots«, 2002) tells the story of the unusual journey of the natural enemies, wolf and sheep, as well as their emotional attitudes to one another and their confrontation with their respective prejudices, stereotypes, and behavioural patterns from instinct to curiosity. The text is characterised by its ambivalent literary discussion of emotions in their different aspects, including mixed and concealed feelings, for a young audience and also by its playful use of language and the discrepancy between what is said and what is implied. On first view the text appears to follow the fairytale or fable tradition, but it plays not only with the expectations of its child readers, but also those of the adult mediator and the characters themselves. By avoiding a harmonious and idyllic ending, the author succeeds in maintaining the oppositional nature of her characters right up to the book’s open ending, encouraging thoughtfulness. The jury of the German Prize for Young Fiction also recognised this and awarded the author its prize in 2004 for the book, commenting: »Maritgen Matter plays in her début with expectations, she surprises through unexpect ed twists and turns and she lets the protagonists slip out of their accustomed roles. She narrates touchingly, simply and yet with literary complexity, using a light touch and sharp dialogues, in which what is said and meant diverge«.

Her children’s book »Schaap met laarsjes« (2002) has won many prizes and awards, including the Silver Stylus for the Dutch edition (ill: Jan Jutte). Maritgen Matter works and lives with her family in Amsterdam.

© international literaturefestival berlin


Ein Schaf fürs Leben
Hamburg, 2003
[Ill: Anke Faust]
[Ü: Sylke Hachmeister]