Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blixen

Karen Blixen, as we know her in Denmark, is without a doubt one of the greatest writers and story tellers in Danish history.

I visited her home – Rungstedlund – situated just north of Copenhagen along the coast.

It was a really interesting experience which got under my skin in every way. During the visit I was struck by so many feelings – her story made me laugh, smile, wonder and even cry… a visit I can strongly recommend.

Rungstedlund is today a museum all about the writer and open for all. Entrance is DKK 75,- (Approx USD 11,-).

The interior is almost as Karen Blixen arranged it herself. You can walk around the same living rooms or lounges where she had been relaxing in the sofas in front of the fire place and the office in which she wrote her famous works. Many of the furniture pieces had been shipped back to Denmark after being in her home in Africa – the farm. She was very artistic and her paintings and sketches are displayed on the walls. There is also a display of her private letters and correspondance with her family and loved ones and you are brought through the timeline of her life.

Karen Blixen’s life in years:

  • April 17, 1885. Born on Rungstedlund and named Karen Christentze (Tanne) Dinesen.
  • March 28th, 1895. Karen’s dad commits suicide.
  • November 30th, 1903. Accepted into the Academy of Arts for women in Copenhagen.
  • December 23rd, 1912. She is engaged to Baron von Blixen-Finecke from Näsbyholm, Sweden.
  • December 2nd, 1913. Karen Blixen travels to British East Africa (Now Kenya) to start a new life as coffee farmer with Bror Blixen.
  • January 14th, 1914. She arrives in Mombasa and same day is married to Bror Blixen.
  • April 5th, 1918. She meets the two year younger British nobleman and military flyer Denys Finch Hatton to whom she has a good eye.
  • In 1921 she is separated from her husband Bror Blixen.
  • In 1922 she is continually disappointed having expectations of becoming pregnant with Denys Finch Hatton.
  • In 1931, her African farm goes on foreclosure after several years of  hardship and struggle.
  • May 14th, 1931. Denys Finch Hatton crashes with his plane and dies, aged 44. He was buried near the farm.
  • August 31st, 1931. Karen Blixen returns to Denmark.
  • In the years 1932-1933 she struggles to get published.
  • In 1934 her famous work “Seven Gothic Tales” is selected as book-of-the-month in USA and is published with Harrison Smith under the pseudo name Isak Dinesen.
  • In the following years she published “Out of Africa”, “Winther-fairytale”, “The Angelic Avengers” and “Babette’s Feast” and received broad acclaim by critics and readers.
  • In 1955 she turns 70 and receives significant recognition. She also turns seriously ill which invalidates her for the rest of her life.
  • 1957 she is several times a candidate to receive the Nobel Prize in literature, although she never received the award.
  • On September 7th, 1962, she quietly leaves this world in her home, Rungstedlund. She dies from malnutrition caused by many years of illness.

Karen Blixen had a very interesting and eventful life rich in facets and intrigues.  When she moved back home to live with her mother in Rungstedlund; Africa, a marriage and perhaps the love affair of her life was lost. But at the same time her career in writing took off and she was finally recognized as the great story teller she was. It was also a life without a husband, children and with a life in the better society of which she had very mixed feelings.

The memories stayed with her and every night she would open the terrace door and gaze to the south – towards Africa where her heart was.

After her death, her books, essays and her life became object of attention by popular press. Several interesting biographies was written and the greatest pieces of writing was later turned into award winning movies.

Karen Blixen is quietly buried under the large beech in the beautiful garden behind Rungstedlund.

Could you be interested in visit Rungstedlund –  the home of Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen ?

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