Jan de Hartog (1914–2002,) occasional penname F. R. Eckmar, was a Dutch-American novelist and playwright who wrote adventure stories in Dutch and English. His early adventures at sea and his escape from the Nazis during World War II furnished him with material for many of his books.
Born Haarlem, Netherlands, de Hartog early was an adventurer, twice running away from home to work at sea. During World War II, he joined the Dutch Resistance and, in 1943, was forced into hiding. Later that year, he fled to England and eventually settled in the United States, becoming a Quaker.
De Hartog’s first notable novel, Hollands glorie: roman van de zeesleepvaart (1947; Captain Jan: A Story of Ocean Tugboats,) relates the tale of a young boy’s career in the merchant navy. De Hartog’s later novels, written in English, are of chiefly entertainment value. Among these are A Sailor’s Life (1956,) The Inspector (1960,) The Peaceable Kingdom: An American Saga (1972,) The Lamb’s War (1980,) The Trail of the Serpent (1983,) and Star of Peace (1984.) Many of the novels were adapted into films.
De Hartog’s non-fiction book The Hospital (1964) exposed appalling medical conditions in a Houston hospital.