Jan de Hartog, the Dutch playwright and novelist whose best-known stage work, The Fourposter, starred Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn on Broadway, died Sept. 22 in Houston, where he lived with his wife, Marjorie, The New York Times reported.
Mr. de Hartog was 88 and leaves behind six children from his three marriages, and plays and a number of novels and non-fiction books, including "The Hospital," about life in a Houston hospital.
The Fourposter, a two-character 1951 play about marriage over many years, won the Tony Award for Best Play and would later become a film with Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer and the Broadway musical comedy, I Do! I Do!, by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, starring Mary Martin and Robert Preston. The New York Times reported that the Haarlem, Netherlands-born writer, a Dutch resistance fighter, wrote the play while hiding from the Nazis, taking refuge in a home for elderly women in Amsterdam.
He escape through Europe, into England and eventually came to the United States. His book, "The Flight," written with his wife, details his journey during World War II.
At a young age he was seduced by the sea and ran away to become a sailor. Mr. de Hartog attended the Amsterdam Naval College, 1930-31. During World War II, he served in the Netherlands Merchant Marine as a correspondent. He penned a novel called "Holland's Glory," The Times reported, about tugboats that rescued ocean liners, and it became a best-seller in Holland. His first novel in English was "The Lost Sea," about a Dutch boy who flees the world for a life at sea. His last novel, "The Outer Buoy," was published in 1994. Many of his works were linked to the sea.
Mr. de Hartog's plays also include The End of the Liberty (produced in Holland in 1939), Skipper Next to God (in which he also acted, at the Embassy Theatre in London in 1945; it later played New York in 1948) and This Time Tomorrow (at the Guild Theatre in New York City, 1947).
Skipper Next to God concerned a Dutch sea captain who commandeers a ship of Jewish refugees.