|Birth Day:||March 20, 1828|
|Death Date:||May 23, 1906 (age 78)|
|Birth Place:||Skien, Norway|
As per our current Database, Henrik Ibsen died on May 23, 1906 (age 78).
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He came from a family with a Danish shipping background, and he went to work as a merchant.
When Henrik Ibsen was around seven years old, his father's fortunes took a significant turn for the worse, and the family was eventually forced to sell the major Altenburg building in central Skien and move permanently to their large summer house, Venstøp, outside of the city. They were still relatively affluent, had servants and socialised with other members of the Skien elite; their closest neighbours on Southern Venstøp were former ship-owner and mayor Ulrich Frederik Cudrio and his family, who also had been forced to sell their townhouse. Henrik's sister Hedvig would write about their mother: "She was a quiet, lovable woman, the soul of the house, everything to her husband and children. She sacrificed herself time and time again. There was no bitterness or reproach in her." In 1843, after Henrik left home, the Ibsen family moved to a townhouse at Snipetorp, owned by Knud Ibsen's half-brother, wealthy banker and ship-owner Christopher Blom Paus.
At fifteen, Ibsen was forced to leave school. He moved to the small town of Grimstad to become an apprentice pharmacist and began writing plays. In 1846, when Ibsen was 18, he had a liaison with Else Sophie Jensdatter Birkedalen which produced a son, Hans Jacob Hendrichsen Birkdalen, whose upbringing Ibsen paid for until the boy was fourteen, though Ibsen never saw Hans Jacob. Ibsen went to Christiania (later renamed Kristiania and then Oslo) intending to matriculate at the university. He soon rejected the idea (his earlier attempts at entering university were blocked as he did not pass all his entrance exams), preferring to commit himself to writing. His first play, the tragedy Catilina (1850), was published under the pseudonym "Brynjolf Bjarme", when he was only 22, but it was not performed. His first play to be staged, The Burial Mound (1850), received little attention. Still, Ibsen was determined to be a playwright, although the numerous plays he wrote in the following years remained unsuccessful. Ibsen's main inspiration in the early period, right up to Peer Gynt, was apparently the Norwegian author Henrik Wergeland and the Norwegian folk tales as collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. In Ibsen's youth, Wergeland was the most acclaimed, and by far the most read, Norwegian poet and playwright.
Ibsen returned to Christiania in 1858 to become the creative director of the Christiania Theatre. He married Suzannah Thoresen on 18 June 1858 and she gave birth to their only child Sigurd on 23 December 1859. The couple lived in very poor financial circumstances and Ibsen became very disenchanted with life in Norway. In 1864, he left Christiania and went to Sorrento in Italy in self-imposed exile. He didn't return to his native land for the next 27 years, and when he returned to it he was a noted, but controversial, playwright.
Ibsen moved from Italy to Dresden, Germany, in 1868, where he spent years writing the play he regarded as his main work, Emperor and Galilean (1873), dramatizing the life and times of the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate. Although Ibsen himself always looked back on this play as the cornerstone of his entire works, very few shared his opinion, and his next works would be much more acclaimed. Ibsen moved to Munich in 1875 and began work on his first contemporary realist drama The Pillars of Society, first published and performed in 1877. A Doll's House followed in 1879. This play is a scathing criticism of the marital roles accepted by men and women which characterized Ibsen's society.
Ibsen was decorated Knight in 1873, Commander in 1892, and with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav in 1893. He received the Grand Cross of the Danish Order of the Dannebrog, and the Grand Cross of the Swedish Order of the Polar Star, and was Knight, First Class of the Order of Vasa.
Ghosts followed in 1881, another scathing commentary on the morality of Ibsen's society, in which a widow reveals to her pastor that she had hidden the evils of her marriage for its duration. The pastor had advised her to marry her fiancé despite his philandering, and she did so in the belief that her love would reform him. But his philandering continued right up until his death, and his vices are passed on to their son in the form of syphilis. The mention of venereal disease alone was scandalous, but to show how it could poison a respectable family was considered intolerable.
Ibsen didn't just read the critical reaction to his plays, he actively corresponded with critics, publishers, theatre directors and newspaper editors on the subject. The interpretation of his work, both by critics and directors, concerned him greatly. He often advised directors on which actor or actress would be suitable for a particular role. [An example of this is a letter he wrote to Hans Schroder in November 1884, with detailed instructions for the production of The Wild Duck.]
Ibsen's biographer Henrik Jæger famously wrote in 1888 that Ibsen did not have a drop of Norwegian blood in his veins, stating that "the ancestral Ibsen was a Dane". This, however, is not completely accurate; notably through his grandmother Hedevig Paus, Ibsen was descended from one of the very few families of the patrician class of original Norwegian extraction, known since the 15th century. Ibsen's ancestors had mostly lived in Norway for several generations, even though many had foreign ancestry.
Ibsen had completely rewritten the rules of drama with a realism which was to be adopted by Chekhov and others and which we see in the theatre to this day. From Ibsen forward, challenging assumptions and directly speaking about issues has been considered one of the factors that makes a play art rather than entertainment. His works were brought to an English-speaking audience, largely thanks to the efforts of William Archer and Edmund Gosse. These in turn had a profound influence on the young James Joyce who venerates him in his early autobiographical novel "Stephen Hero". Ibsen returned to Norway in 1891, but it was in many ways not the Norway he had left. Indeed, he had played a major role in the changes that had happened across society. Modernism was on the rise, not only in the theatre, but across public life.. Michael Meyer's translations in the 1950s were welcomed by actors and directors as playable, rather than academic. As The Times newspaper put it, ‘This, one may think, is how Ibsen might have expressed himself in English'.
On 23 May 1906, Ibsen died in his home at Arbins gade 1 in Kristiania (now Oslo) after a series of strokes in March 1900. When, on 22 May, his nurse assured a visitor that he was a little better, Ibsen spluttered his last words "On the contrary" ("Tvertimod!"). He died the following day at 2:30 pm.
The Ibsen Society of America (ISA) was founded in 1978 at the close of the Ibsen Sesquicentennial Symposium held in New York City to mark the 150th anniversary of Henrik Ibsen's birth. Distinguished Ibsen translator and critic Rolf Fjelde, Professor of Literature at Pratt Institute and the chief organizer of the Symposium, was elected Founding President. In December 1979, the ISA was certified as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of New York. Its purpose is to foster through lectures, readings, performances, conferences, and publications an understanding of Ibsen's works as they are interpreted as texts and produced on stage and in film and other media. An annual newsletter Ibsen News and Comment is distributed to all members.
In 1995, the asteroid 5696 Ibsen was named in his memory.
The 100th anniversary of Ibsen's death in 2006 was commemorated with an "Ibsen year" in Norway and other countries. In 2006, the homebuilding company Selvaag also opened Peer Gynt Sculpture Park in Oslo, Norway, in Henrik Ibsen's honour, making it possible to follow the dramatic play Peer Gynt scene by scene. Will Eno's adaptation of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, titled Gnit, had its world premiere at the 37th Humana Festival of New American Plays in March 2013.
On 23 May 2006, The Ibsen Museum in Oslo re-opened, to the public, the house where Ibsen had spent his last eleven years, completely restored with the original interior, colours, and decor.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Ibsen's death in 2006, the Norwegian government organised the Ibsen Year, which included celebrations around the world. The NRK produced a miniseries on Ibsen's childhood and youth in 2006, An Immortal Man. Several prizes are awarded in the name of Henrik Ibsen, among them the International Ibsen Award, the Norwegian Ibsen Award and the Ibsen Centennial Commemoration Award.
Currently, Henrik Ibsen is 194 years, 6 months and 16 days old. Henrik Ibsen will celebrate 195th birthday on a Monday 20th of March 2023.
Find out about Henrik Ibsen birthday activities in timeline view here.