Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1903
Born: 8 December 1832, Kvikne, Norway
Died: 26 April 1910, Paris, France
Residence at the time of the award: Norway
Prize motivation: “as a tribute to his noble, magnificent and versatile poetry, which has always been distinguished by both the freshness of its inspiration and the rare purity of its spirit”
Prize share: 1/1
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson began his literary career as a theater and literary critic. After his breakthrough novel Synnøve Solbakken, he was able to support himself as a writer. His books also attracted attention outside of Norway, and he lived intermittently abroad. Bjørnson was also politically active and played an important role in the growing Norwegian nationalism. He was critical of the Swedish-Norwegian union, but called for a peaceful solution. His commitment to peace led to becoming a member of the first Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson was a multifaceted literary person. He wrote poetry, drama and lyrical poetry. He worked for periods as theater director in both Bergen and Oslo, and he was active both politically and as a journalist. In his early works he depicted peasant life in the Norwegian countryside. This national romanticism was also found in his poetry throughout his career, even if he also wrote both realistic and symbolic dramas. Bjørnson’s musical version of the poem “Ja, vi elsker dette landet” became Norway's national anthem.