Verner von Heidenstam


Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1916

Born: 6 July 1859, Olshammar, Sweden

Died: 20 May 1940, Övralid, Sweden

Residence at the time of the award: Sweden

Prize motivation: “in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature”

Language: Swedish

Prize share: 1/1


As a young man interested in becoming an artist, Verner von Heidenstam moved first to Rome and then to Paris to study painting at the École des Beaux-Arts. In his sketch pad he began writing more and more poetry, and eventually he turned to writing as a vocation. His writing affirms the romantic and sensual and became germinal in the literary current of the 1890s, which included the poet Gustaf Fröding, author Ellen Key and artist Albert Engström. Heidenstam was a member of the Swedish Academy from 1912 to 1940.


Verner von Heidenstam received recognition for his debut poetry collection in 1888 titled Vallfart och vandringsår (Pilgrimage: The Wander Years). He broke with realism and naturalism, the prevailing literary trends, describing the individual’s experience of sensuality and romance. Heidenstam’s writings romanticized Sweden’s period as a great power and the soldiers of Charles XII. After following in the footsteps of the 18th century King Charles XII in 1896, the short story collection Karolinerna (The Charles Men) was published. It became a great success and required reading in Swedish elementary schools.

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