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The archives of star reporter Alain de Prelle de la Nieppe at CegeSoma

Poster concerning a lecture at the Salle de Westhoven on 25 November 1954. (acquisition 2023-21, no. 86), copyrights State Archives of Belgium

The archives of journalist and professional adventurer Alain de Prelle de la Nieppe were donated to CegeSoma by his son in May 2022 and June 2023. A unique acquisition!

Born into a noble family, Alain de Prelle de la Nieppe (1922-1955) was already an adventurous child. During World War II, he managed to escape to England via France, Spain and Gibraltar, and served in the Royal Navy from 1941. After the Liberation, de Prelle traveled throughout postwar Europe and got his start in journalism. Once married, he worked for a time for his parents-in-law's mattress company in Herentals. However, de Prelle quickly and passionately threw himself into the career of independent journalist. From the end of the 1940s, he visited many of the geopolitical flashpoints of the moment: for example, he was UNO war correspondent in Korea, reported on the Indonesian independence struggle and the conflict in French Indochina, visited the Indian state of Hyderabad. De Prelle's work appeared in numerous Belgian and foreign periodicals but in particular his articles in the weekly magazine Moustique (and its Dutch-language counterpart Humoradio) established his reputation as adventurer-reporter. The challenge set to de Prelle by Charles Dupuis, director of éditions Dupuis, to go round the world on a derisory one thousand Belgian franc banknote particularly excited the imagination of the general public : the resulting book "Le Tour du Monde sur un billet de mille" (1953) was a success. Then, in the same style, appeared "Cent mille kilomètres en système D" (1954), "Plus riche que Lavarède" (1955) and "Fiancé à l'aventure" (1956). In 1955, de Prelle was in Morocco to report on the anti-French riots. Severely injured in a traffic accident around Khouribga, he died at the age of thirty-two.

The archives of the Prelle de la Nieppe cover some four linear meters and date largely from the immediate postwar period (c. 1944-1955). They primarily contain items related to his journalistic career: scores of handwritten and typed articles (by his wife), hundreds of photographs intended as illustrations, as well as correspondence, notes and travel documents. The archives also include the manuscripts and typescripts of his books and earlier commercial work (such as promotional texts for airlines). Lectures given by de Prelle to the home front are documented, among other things, by some 40 posters.

The two donations have since been repackaged and provisionally described. A final, full-fledged inventory is planned for mid-2024.