Professor Swaen, A Pioneer

Professor Adriaan Ernst Hugo Swaen (1863-1947) was the first professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Amsterdam, appointed in 1913. Swaen had a passion for words from an early age and studied several different languages. After a couple of years in Hertfortshire, England, he became a teacher of English Literature at the H.B.S (secondary school) in Groningen, in 1905. He went on to become a renowned linguist, publishing an English and Dutch dictionary in 1933, as well as writing books about his falconry, his favourite pastime.

When Professor Swaen began work at the University of Amsterdam, there was no library or archive of English materials, and no course syllabi or teaching plans. He had to build up everything by himself. Over the years, he turned one professorship into an entire department. The work he launched in 1913 continues today.

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