Hendrik Conscience grew up in a working-class neighbourhood in Antwerp. His breakthrough as a novelist came about when he published the historical novel The lion of Flanders (1838) and he went on to be even more successful by writing comedies of manners adapted to his increasing Dutch speaking readership. Those novels awarded him great acclaim in Belgium and abroad. From 1840 onwards he worked as a registrar at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In 1856 he was appointed district commissioner in Kortrijk and in 1869 curator at the Wiertz museum in Brussels. Conscience died in 1883 shortly after his statue in Antwerp was inaugurated.