What is Creative Storytellers?
CREATIVE STORYTELLERS is a Literary & Photographic Society—an association of writers, photographers, discoverers, and informed correspondents, who together contribute some of the most fascinating and original features that enrich, inspire, entertain, and educate. Our stories are presented in a truly dynamic format, with both printed and digital versions of our books (discounted for members), and include related video and audio files online. And we encourage our members to become actively involved as creative storytellers with the chance to have their material published by us.
Take, for example, our anthology Van Gogh’s Enduring Legacy. Researched, written and presented by some of the world’s foremost experts on Van Gogh’s extraordinary life, with compelling narrative and imagery never before seen, Van Gogh’s Enduring Legacy is the most comprehensive account of the illustrious Vincent ever told. Referring to Vincent’s many hundreds of letters, William J. Havlicek, Ph.D., had this to say: “The letters reveal an unknown, adventurous, deeply compassionate Vincent whose essence seems to have been lost in the dramatic and often apocryphal stories surrounding his illness and early death. My effort therefore is to unveil these unknown aspects of Vincent—ones that could be considered heroic and certainly praiseworthy.”
But most revealing in our anthology on Vincent is the key role played by an extraordinary woman, Johanna Van Gogh-Bonger. Johanna was Vincent’s sister-in-law, at the wife of his benevolent brother Theo van Gogh. After the deaths of Vincent and Theo, who both died in their 30s and within six months of each other, Johanna became the keeper and advocate of Vincent’s immense collection of drawings and studio materials that had been left to her young son and heir, also named Vincent. Johanna was to single-handedly preserve and chronicle over 520 hand-written letters to and from Vincent (eventually more than 900 would come to light) without which we would never have understood the devoted relationship and interdependence Vincent had with his brother Theo, nor the remarkable beneficence that lay at the very core of the Van Gogh family as a whole. Most importantly, we might never have known the true nature and accomplishments of the extraordinary Vincent van Gogh.
Authors David A. Glen and William J. Havlicek, in their new, full-color 360-page trilogy entitled Johanna: The Other Van Gogh, carefully researched letters and documents that accurately portray Johanna as a woman whose indomitable and tenacious spirit met with great antipathy in a time when women were not welcome in the world of art dealing. Yet her steadfast determination and stamina were soon to attract the attention of principal art dealers, including the renowned Cassirer and Bremmer, who were to orchestrate the sale of a large number of Van Gogh paintings and drawings to the affluent collector Helene Kroller-Muller. These now comprise the second-largest collection of Van Gogh’s artwork, now on display in the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands. Helene Kroller-Muller’s collection of Vincent’s art also plays a fascinating role in the saga of a wealthy German family’s fall from grace in post-war Holland.
Vincent’s nature, contrary to so much of the spurious narrative in recent publications, emerges as fact in his letters. And this is certainly evident in the writings of Johanna van Gogh-Bonger:
“The letters have taken a large place in my life already, since the beginning of Theo’s illness. The first lonely evening which I spent in our home after my return I took the package of letters. I knew that in them I should find him again. Evening after evening that was my consolation after the miserable days. It was not Vincent whom I was seeking but Theo. I drank in every word, I absorbed every detail. I not only read the letters with my heart, but with my whole soul. And so it has remained all the time. I have read them, and reread them, until
I saw the figure of Vincent clearly before me. Imagine for one moment my experience, when I came back to Holland—realizing the greatness and the nobility of that lonely artist’s life. Imagine my disappointment at the indifference which people showed, when it concerned Vincent and his work…Sometimes it made me very sad. I remember how last year, on the day of Vincent’s death, I went out late in the evening. The wind blew, it rained, and it was pitch-dark. Every- where in the houses I saw light and people gathered around the table. And I felt so forlorn that for the first time I understood what Vincent must have felt in those times, when everybody turned away from him, when he felt ‘as if there were no place for him on earth…’ I wished that I could make you feel the influence Vincent had on my life. It was he who helped me to accommodate my life in such a way that I can be at peace with myself. Serenity—this was the favorite word of both of them, the something they considered the highest. Serenity—I have found it. Since that winter, when I was alone, I have not been unhappy— ’sorrowful yet always rejoicing,’ that was one of his expressions, which I have come to understand now.”
Johanna’s ardent advocacy, and that of the caring and steadfast Theo, together with the prestigious patronage of Helene Kroller-Muller, are inextricably tied to the very existence of one of history’s artistic icons in the person of Vincent van Gogh. Glen and Havlicek, in three vibrant episodes, demonstrate that Johanna, through her dedicated action and commitment to preserving Vincent’s legacy, was to forever change the history of art.
Vincent’s letters also reveal his literary prowess; he was a great writer as well a remarkable artist. Vincent as a Writer, another story in our anthology on Van Gogh, discusses his letters in the context of both his life and those who influenced him, and the times in which he lived.
Journeys to Elsewhere is the title of our series of travel narratives produced by writer, photographer, and documentary filmmaker David Glen. David is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Photographic Society, and has spent a large part of his life in some of the far reaches of the world. His experiences, written at times with an impish humor, and beautifully illustrated with full-color photography, will truly empower, enrich, entertain and educate.
Our books in the Journeys to Elsewhere collection are must-have companions for those embarking on their own adventures afar, as well as for those who prefer vicarious travel from the comfort of a fireside armchair.