Dr. H.J.M. Nellen (1949) studied History from 1968 to 1974 at the Catholic University (Radboud University) of Nijmegen. His main subject was Modern History (pre-1870); among his minor subjects were Economics and History (‘History of the intellectual relations between the countries of Western Europe in the 17th century’). He worked as a history teacher in secondary education from August 1974 until November 1980, when he was appointed head of the Grotius Institute at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1992, the Grotius Institute became part of the (Constantijn) Huygens Institute. Since then, H. Nellen has continued working at the Huygens Institute as a senior researcher.
In November 1980, he was awarded his doctorate by the Catholic University of Nijmegen for his PhD thesis on the network of correspondents of the 17th-century French scholar Ismael Boulliau: Ismael Boulliau (1605-1694). Nieuwsjager en correspondent (Nijmegen 1980). A French translation of this work was published in 1994.
At both the Grotius Institute and the Huygens Institute, Nellen has worked on such publications as volumes XIII-XVII of the Briefwisseling van Hugo Grotius (The Hague, Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën, 1990-2001). He has also conducted research into other aspects of the 17th-century scholarly world. In 2007 he published a biography of Hugo Grotius: Hugo de Groot, een leven in strijd om de vrede (Amsterdam, Balans, 2007). At the moment he is involved in Europa Humanistica, a repertorium of humanist editors from the 16th century, and in the project ‘Bible Criticism and Secularization in the Seventeenth Century’. The second project is being funded via NWO’s competitive grant scheme. It will be conducted by the two applicants, Henk Nellen and Piet Steenbakkers (Descartes Centre, University of Utrecht), in collaboration with two postdoctoral researchers.
Nellen is a member of the board of Grotiana – a foundation for the promotion of the publication of Hugo Grotius’s work – and secretary of the Dutch Association of Neo-Latinists, which issues a newsletter and organises a workshop each year.
H. Nellen holds a chair in the History of Ideas in the Early Modern period, on behalf of the dr. C. Louise Thijssen-Schoute Foundation.