Annejet van der Zijl is one of the best-known and most widely read writers in the Netherlands. So far, she has written seven non-fiction books and one fiction book, all of which have become bestsellers. Her work has been awarded the Gouden Ganzenveer (Golden Quill) and the Amsterdam Prize for the Arts.
Annejet was born into a family of teachers and studied art history and mass communication in Amsterdam and laterinternational journalism in London. She then worked in journalism for several years, including as a crime reporter. A selection of her crime stories appeared in 2014 under the title Moord in de Bloedstraat (Murder on Blood Street). This period also served as inspiration forDe val van Annika S. (The Fall of Annika S.), Annejet’s first work of fiction, published in 2018 with Jo Simons. The film rights have since been sold. The second part of the story, titled Rijke mensen zijn anders (The Rich are Different), is expected to be published in the spring of 2022.
Annejet's writing career began in 1998, when she made her debut with Jagtlust, a reconstruction of the illustrious artists’ colony of the same name in the Netherlands’ Gooi region. The award-winning biography Anna, het leven van Annie M.G. Schmidt (Anna, the life of Annie M.G. Schmidt, 2002) subsequently put her on the map as “the queen of literary non-fiction” (Pieter Steinz in theNRC Handelsblad). The book served as a basis for the drama series Annie M.G., produced by Ruud Bos, and for the musical Was getekend, Annie M.G. Schmidt with Simone Kleinsma.
In 2004, Annejet published the true love story Sonny Boy, which has sold more than 700,000 copies in the Netherlands alone. This book also received an award and was adapted for film in 2011. The festive sixtieth edition was released in 2021. The book has been translated into many languages and become an international bestseller, especially in the United States, where it was published in 2019 under the title The Boy Between Worlds.
In 2009, Annejet obtained her doctorate in history with the biography Bernhard, een verborgen geschiedenis (Bernhard, a hidden history). The story of the former Dutch prince’s German background was awarded the M.J. Brusse Prize for Best Journalistic Book. Just like Gerard Heineken—the story of the founder of the famous beer brand and a history of Amsterdam—this book was also nominated for the Libris History Prize.
In 2015, she publishedDe Amerikaanse prinses, a reconstruction of the eventful life of Allene Tew, the American godmother of Princess Beatrix, which occupied the top of the bestseller list for weeks. More than 250,000 copies have been sold to date. In 2018, the book was published in English translation.An American Princess—the many lives of Allene Tew, became a Wall Street Journal bestseller and was named one of the best books of the year in 2019 by Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel in The Guardian. The film rights have been bought by Joop van de Ende, and the book will serve as the basis for a Dutch-British television series.
The international success gave Annejet the courage to take on the reconstruction of the nineteenth century love story Leon & Juliette, which was the featured book of the 2020 Dutch Book Week. This story became the prelude to the transatlantic family chronicle Fortuna’s Kinderen (Fortune’s Children), which will be published in the Netherlands in the autumn of 2021 and in the US in the spring of 2022 in translation by Kristen Gehrman.