The following information was submitted in November of 2006 by her son John:
Hilda Gerarda van Stockum was born in Rotterdam in 1908. Her father, Abraham Jan van Stockum, was a naval officer and her mother, Olga Emily Boissevain, was the daughter of Charles Boissevain, a prominent Dutch newspaper editor.
As a child, van Stockum grew up in Ireland and the Netherlands and traveled with her family to France, Switzerland, and the East Indies. Constantly filling notebooks with stories and pictures, she wrote and illustrated a book for her younger brother, Willem, when she was five.
In 1932, in Dublin, van Stockum married the roommate at Trinity College of her brother Willem (a medal-winning mathematician famed among time-travel aficionados), Ervin Ross Marlin. Two years later, the Marlins moved to New York. Van Stockum lectured on the use of Montessori materials and published her first children’s book, A Day on Skates (1934). The book, which includes a preface by her aunt, Edna St. Vincent Millay, took Newbery honors in 1935.
The family moved to Washington in 1935 when Marlin won by exam a U.S. civil service position in the Administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was posted to several agencies including the Social Security Administration and the Federal Security Agency (later renamed the Secret Service). Van Stockum continued to teach, study art, and write children’s books in Washington during the war, while her husband was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services in Dublin and London.
After the war, her husband was with the U.S. delegation at the founding of the United Nations in 1945, and then served as director of technical assistance for the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal and as senior director of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. The Marlin family followed him to these posts. He became Director of International Recruitment at the State Department after retiring from the U.N., then retired again and was asked by the AARP to form the International Federation of Ageing. He retired in 1973 and died in 1994.
Van Stockum's books, which are set in Holland, Ireland, Canada, Kenya, and the United States, were published by Harper & Brothers, Viking, and Farrar Straus. The Cottage at Bantry Bay (1938) was the first of three books about the O’Sullivan family in Ireland. Many of van Stockum’s works remain in print by Bethlehem Books and have a strong following among home-schoolers.
Painting, however, was van Stockum’s primary passion throughout her life. She studied at the Dublin School of Art, the Amsterdam Academy of Art and the Corcoran School of Art. In the 1920’s, she worked as an illustrator for the Dublin-based publishing house, Browne & Nolan. She illustrated her first book, an Irish reader, in 1930, and her last book in 2001, giving her a 71-year career as a book-illustrator.
Van Stockum died November 1, 2006 in Berkhamsted, England, following a stroke.