Dorothe Engelbretsdotter

Dorothe Engelbretsdotter (16 January 1634 – 19 February 1716) was a Norwegian author. She principally wrote hymns and poems. She has been characterized as Norway's first recognized female author as well as Norway's first feminist before feminism became a recognized concept.

Engelbretsdotter was born in Bergen, Norway. She was the daughter of Rector and Vicar, Engelbret Jørgenssøn and Anna Wrangel. Her father was originally head of the high school in that city, and afterwards dean of the cathedral. In 1652 she married Ambrosius Hardenbeck, a theological writer famous for his flowery funeral sermons, who succeeded her father at the cathedral in 1659. They had five sons and four daughters.

In 1678 her first volume appeared, Själens aandelige Sangoffer ("The Souls Spiritual Offering of Song") published at Copenhagen. This volume of hymns and devotional pieces, very modestly brought out, had an unparalleled success. The first verses of Engelbretsdotter are the commonly believed to be her best. The fortunate poetess was invited to Denmark, and on her arrival at Copenhagen was presented at court. She was also introduced to Thomas Hansen Kingo, the father of Danish poetry, and the two greeted one another with improvised couplets, which have been preserved and of which the poetess' reply is incomparably the neater. Her Tåreoffer was dedicated to Queen Charlotte Amalia, the wife of King Christian V.

In 1683 her husband died. She had nine children, but seven of them died and two of the children lived far away from Bergen. She lost her house in the great fire in 1702 in which 90 percent of the city of Bergen was destroyed. Her sorrow is evident in examples such as the poem Afften Psalme. She died on the 19th of February 1716.

Her first work, Siælens Sang-offer, was published 1678. In the midst of her troubles appeared her second work, the Tåreoffer ("Sacrifice of Tears"), published for the first time in 1685. It is a continuous religious poem in four books. This was combined with the Sangoffer which was dedicated to Jesus. No fewer than three editions of the united works were published before her death, and many after it. In 1698 she brought out a third volume of sacred verse, Et kristeligt Valet fra Verden ("A Christian Farewell to the World"), a very tame production.

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