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Sigrid Undset

Awards: Nobel Prize in Literature-1928

Nobel Committee in its citation stated that the prize was given  "principally for her powerful descriptions  of Northern life during the Middle Ages. "

Born: 20/05/1882 in Kalundborg, Denmark

Died: 10/06/1949  in Lillehammer, Norway

Citizen: Norwegian

Language: Norwegian

    Sigrid was born in Denmark and was the eldest of three daughters. When she was two, the family moved to Norway and stayed in Oslo where her father worked as archaeologist. When she was 11, her father died of a long illness. She could not afford higher education because of financial hardship & worked as a Secretary in an engineering company for nearly 10 years.

  She started work for her first novel at the age of 16 and completed it when she was 22. It was a historical novel. The publisher promptly rejected it. In the mean time, she worked on her second novel which was first rejected but later on was accepted. It was a lean book and the theme was adultery. The book was well received and she was recognized as a promising writer. She wrote many novels which were women centric and talked of women emanicipation.

   She started on her major work,   Kristin Lavransdatter in 1919, after the end of First World War. She saw pain, suffering, death and other extreme emotions at close quarters and the novel depicted them against the background of a distant past. Then followed The Master of Hestviken, her another magnificient creation.

  In 1934, she published Eleven Years Old, her autobiographical work. In Germany, Hitler was in ascendancy and she wrote against him. Her books were promptly banned in Germany.

 In 1940 , She fled Norway  during the Nazi invasion along with her younger son and arrived in US. Her eldest son who was a Second Lieutenant in the Norwegian Army was killed in an encounter with German troops at Segalstad bridge near their house. Her sick daughter had died just before the outbreak of War. She returned to Norway in 1945 after the country was liberated.

   Devastated and sick, she did not resume writing and died four years later. She was buried in the village of Meslani and her grave is marked by three crosses that include her eldest son and daughter.

  To honour her, a crater in Venus ((Latitude 51.7, Longitude 60.8, Diameter 20 KM) is named after her. She is depicted in a two-kroner Postage stamp in 1982. Sweden also issued a stamp in 1998 to commemorate her achievements.

Notable Works: Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy ( 1920-22)--The Wreath,  The Wife  , The Cross ; The Master of Hestviken (1925-27) 4 Volume Series -- The Axe, The Snake, In the Wilderness, The Son Avenger ; Gunnar's Daughter(1909), Happy Time in Norway(1942)

Sigrid Undset

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