Hubert Krains


Hubert KrainsHubert Krains (1862-1934) was a Belgian post official and writer. Born in the poor village of Les Waleffes, he dropped out of school to help his father, a farmer. In 1880 he started to work with the Belgian post.


Steadily growing through the ranks, he was elected secretary of the Universal Postal Union in 1895. He stayed on until 1911. In 1908 he published the book L'Union Postale Universelle, sa fondation et son développement (The Universal Postal Union, its foundation and its development).


From 1925 to 1928 he was general director of the Belgian Post.


Belgium - postage stamp Hubert Krains 1974Although his profession made him relocate many times, he was clearly marked by his first twenty years of rural life in a poor environment. This is shown clearly in his writings that are lively documents of the rural life at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.


His first writings were published in the symbolist review La Wallonie. Guided by the famous writer Mockel and later by Georges Eekhoud, he started to read Anglo-Saxon and Russian writers. After a brief nostalgic period, due to his relocation to Berne in 1895, his real personality emerges in 1904 when he wrote one of his masterpieces Le pain noir. In Switzerland he becomes a master himself for young writers who want guidance.


Back in Belgium in 1911, he experienced the First World War and the infuriating linguistic quarrel between the Walloons and the Flemings. After the war, Krains was nationally recognized as a novelist and critique; he chaired the Association of the Belgian Writers from 1918 to 1934 and was elected at the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature, but refused to become secretary for life.


The end of his life was rather sad since he was progressively forgotten; his last two books were commercial failures. Krains died crushed by a train in a Brussels station (as did the inn-keeper Jean Leduc in Le pain noir, after having been ruined by the set up of the railway).



Stamp catalogue


Belgium                               27 April 1974









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last revised: 27 March 2010