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« Tuna 4 / 2016

Pärnu–Paris–Amsterdam. Hella Talvik’s Letters to her Parents and Brothers 1927–1940

The family history of Heiti Talvik (1904–1947), one of the most fascinating Estonian poets of the first half of the 20th century, has practically not been touched on at all in print. Only the career of his father Siegfried Talvik (1878–1929), a doctor and professor of medicine at the University of Tartu, is familiar. His mother Elfriede Talvik (born Inselberg; 1878–1943), sister Hella Talvik (later de Haan; 1907–1998), and also brother Ilmari Talvik (1909–?) have been written about only in passing in connection with Heiti Talvik’s life story. A number of documents, however, are deposited at the Estonian Cultural History Archive in Tartu that also illuminate the course of the lives of his family, like Siegfried and Ilmari Talvik’s diaries, Elfriede Talvik’s letters to Aino Kallas, Hella Talvik’s letters to her parents and brothers, and other such material. All 24 letters by Hella Talvik that are found in the Estonian Cultural History Archive have been published in this publication.

They provide an insight into the search of this young maiden from Pärnu for herself at the end of the 1920’s and in the 1930’s, when her wish to become a dancer took her to Paris in search of the best dance teachers. There she became one of the students of the famous Russian ballet dancer and dance teacher Nikolai Legati (1869–1937). Her letters have been preserved very sporadically so that a complete overview of how things went there for Hella is not possible. It seems likely that she nevertheless did not become a dancer. She married a young Dutch architect named Theodor Christian de Haan (1910–1957) in 1937. Their daughter Maj was born on 10 June 1940. The family lived in Holland during the Second World War. Later the course of their life took them to Sweden, where their sons Rein and Jan de Haan were born. Hella’s connections to her Estonian homeland were severed during the Second World War when her brothers had died (?). Hella visited Estonia and her home town for the last time in

1939, and met people who were close to her. She has been a productive contributor to the local press in Sweden. Hella de Haan died in Sundsvall in May of 1998 at the age of 90. Even in her old age she remained actively interested in the affairs of the world.