Frederik Willem van Eeden was born in 1860 in the city of Haarlem, near Amsterdam, as the son of a botanist. In 1886, he married Martha van Vloten, who gave him two sons. This marriage made him the brother-in-law of the poet Albert Verwey and the painter Willem Witsen, who married Martha's younger sisters Kitty and Betsy. After having divorced Martha, Van Eeden married Geertruida Everts in 1907; they also had two sons. Van Eeden died in Bussum in 1932.
This information from the population registry is little more than a slight indication of the busy life of the man whom the Dutch writer Nescio called ‘a peculiar fellow' in the first line of De Uitvreter (The sponger), one of his short stories. ‘And that's putting it mildly' commented Jan Fontijn in his biography of Frederik van Eeden. There were messianic features in Van Eeden's charismatic but also complex personality. Quite a big ego lay hidden behind his high ideals, and his critical mind was sometimes befuddled by odd notions.