The Nobel Prize in Literature 1917
Born: 24 July 1857, Fredericia, Denmark
Died: 21 August 1943, Ordrup, Denmark
Residence at the time of the award: Denmark
Prize motivation: “for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark”
Prize share: 1/2
Henrik Pontoppidan was born in Fredericia, Denmark. The son of a clergyman, Pontoppidan partly revolted against his environment by studying engineering in Copenhagen in 1873. He worked as a primary school teacher and became a freelance journalist and full-time writer, making his debut in 1881.
Henrik Pontoppidan’s novels and short stories cover most aspects of Danish life. His three major novels were written between 1890 and 1920. In these works, he paints a picture of Denmark in the era of the constitutional struggle between conservatives and liberals, rising industrialization and awakening revolutionary movements. The partly autobiographical Lucky Per (1898–1904) deals with a self-confident, richly gifted man who breaks with his religious family to become an engineer, free of heritage and cultural milieu.