Person Born 27/1/1858 Died 14/7/1942
Born in Buggenum, Holland. The third in a poor family of 9 children, she educated her brothers and sisters. She had an extremely difficult early life, including prostitution to help support the family. She also worked as an artists’ model (Rops, Ensor, Toulouse-Lautrec) and in Antwerp she met the author, Colette. Aged 20 in Brussels, she posed for the her near-namesake, Nele, on the monument for Charles De Coster (see site 14 on the Bailli - pl. Flagey map). She married first a man active in literature, and when widowed, she married a lawyer. Aged 50 she began writing of her experiences and achieved fame as a writer. Her first book, "Jours de Famine et de Détresse" (Days of Starvation and Distress) published in Paris in 1911, received 3 votes at the Prix Goncourt. In 1921 she moved to Ixelles, Brussels and died here in 1942 having left her house to her good friends and neighbours, Franz and Maroussia Hellens, who then moved into the house. Neel Doff was 28 years older than Franz Hellens and thus old enough to be his mother.