Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh (1882–1961) was born in Amsterdam, the oldest of four children. After an idealistic youth, he joined the Holland–Bombay Trading Company in 1904, becoming director in 1926, suffering a nervous breakdown leading to a short hospitalization in 1927, and retiring at age fifty-five, on December 31, 1937; he married Aagje Tiket (b. 1883) in 1906 and had four daughters with her, born in 1907, 1908, 1909, and 1912. Meanwhile, as Nescio (Latin for “I don’t know”; he adopted a pseudonym so as not to jeopardize his business career, acknowledging his authorship publicly only in 1929), he wrote what is now considered perhaps the best prose in the Dutch language.
The first English-language translation of a writer whose growing reputation and cult readership have marked him as a figure in world literature. Nescios stories are inhabited by wastrels and charmers, the young and the no-longer-young, the bourgeois and the bohemian. He is a great stylist, capturing the mercantile city of Amsterdam and its bucolic surrounding countryside with equal vitality.