Sigrid Undset


Sigrid Undset

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Sigrid Undset
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1928

Born: 20 May 1882, Kalundborg, Denmark

Died: 10 June 1949, Lillehammer, Norway

Residence at the time of the award: Norway

Prize motivation: “principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages”

Language: Norwegian

Prize share: 1/1


Sigrid Undset was born in Kalundborg, Denmark as the daughter of a Norwegian archeologist. She was two years old when her family moved to Kristiania, Norway. After her basic schooling and education at a school of commerce, Undset worked in an office. It was during this time that she spent her nights writing. Undset was married to painter Anders Castus Svarstad and had three children. After having divorced her husband, she converted to Catholicism and became a lay Dominican in 1928. Undset opposed the Nazis and spent World War II living in the USA. She later moved to Lillehammer, Norway.


Sigrid Undset wrote novels, short stories, and essays. At first she wrote about strong, contemporary women struggling for emancipation. Inspired by her father, a prominent archeologist, Undset later turned to writing about the Middle Ages. Her best known work is Kristin Lavransdatter, which deals with themes of honor, religious faith, and the common life shared by women and men in 15th-century Norway. With solid historical knowledge, deep psychological insight, a vivid imagination, and a vigorous language, Undset brings to life both communities and individuals.

To cite this section
MLA style: Sigrid Undset – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Mon. 25 Sep 2023. <>

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