The diary of Otto van Eck

Young Otto van Eck with his parents and sisters (©

Otto van Eck was just seventeen when he died of tuberculosis in 1798. His name and life had been totally forgotten until the recent discovery of his unique diary. It was started when he was ten years old under the guidance of his parents and gives a fascinating insight into the huge changes taking place in the social, cultural and political aspects of life at this time, all the more remarkable because of the fact that it is seen through the eyes of a child.

This is the most comprehensive diary by a child in Europe that we know of. It was rediscovered and published in Dutch in the 1990’s. Otto was a child of the Enlightement, and his parents strived to make him a model citizen for the forthcoming 19th century. Their project was doomed to fail.

Producer: Chris Chambers

Broadcast: April 25, 2006