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Jonas Lie (writer)

Jonas Lie
Born (1833-11-06)6 November 1833
Hokksund, Eiker, Norway
Died 5 July 1908(1908-07-05) (aged 74)
Stavern, Larvik, Norway
Occupation Novelist, poet, fairy tales writer, journalist, and lawyer
Nationality Norwegian
Literary movement Realism
Jonas Lie
Jonas and Thomasine Lie monument at the cemetery in Stavern

Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie (Norwegian: ; 6 November 1833 – 5 July 1908) was a Norwegian novelist, poet, and playwright who is considered to have been one of the Four Greats of 19th century Norwegian literature, together with Henrik Ibsen, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and Alexander Kielland.[1]


  • Background 1
  • Career 2
  • Works 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Jonas Lie was born at Hokksund in Øvre Eiker, in the county of Buskerud, Norway. Five years after his son's birth, Lie's father was appointed sheriff of Tromsø, which lies within the Arctic Circle, and young Jonas Lie spent six of the most impressionable years of his life at that remote port.

He was sent to the naval school at Fredriksværn; but his defective eyesight caused him to give up a life at sea. He transferred to the Bergen Cathedral School (Bergen katedralskole) in Bergen, and in 1851 entered the University of Christiania, where he made the acquaintance of Ibsen and Bjørnson. He graduated in law in 1857, and shortly afterwards began to practice at Kongsvinger, a town located between Lake Mjøsa and the border with Sweden.[2]


Clients were not numerous at Kongsvinger and Lie found time to write for the newspapers and became a frequent contributor to some of the Christiania journals. His first work was a volume of poems which appeared in 1866 and was not successful. During the four following years he devoted himself almost exclusively to journalism, working hard and without much reward, but acquiring the pen of a ready writer and obtaining command of a style which has proved serviceable in his subsequent career.

In 1870 he published Den Fremsynte ("The Visionary or Pictures From Nordland"), a powerful tale of the sea and northern superstitions. In the following year he revisited Nordland and traveled into Finnmark.

Starting from 1874, the Norwegian Parliament had granted him an artist salary. Having obtained this small pension from the Government, he sought the greatest contrast he could find in Europe to the scenes of his childhood and started for Rome. For a time he lived in North Germany, then he migrated to Bavaria, spending his winters in Paris. In 1882 he visited Norway for a time, but returned to the continent of Europe. His voluntary exile from his native land ended in the spring of 1893, when he settled at Holskogen, near Kristiansand. His works were numerous after that.[3]


In his works, Jonas Lie often sought to reflect in his writings the nature, folk life, and social spirit of the nation of Norway. His writing often dealt with family life in diverse settings, including portraying the social and intellectual restrictions on women of the educated classes. Lie was a versatile writer, liberal and modern, but also strongly tradition bound.

Among Lie's finest works must be considered Familien paa Gilje (" The Family at Gilje: A Domestic Story of the Forties"), which was a striking document of the life of an officer's family, and the few options given to the daughters of such families.[4]

His two collections of short stories called Trold involve the superstitions of the fishermen and coast commoners of northern Norway. The much anthologized short story Elias and the Draugh was included in a collection originally published by Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, and was reprinted by Roald Dahl in Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories (1983).[5]

Personal life

In 1904, the King of Norway awarded Lie with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav. In 1860, he married his cousin Thomasine Henriette Lie (1833–1907). The couple had five children, of whom two died young. Jonas Lie died at Fleskum at Sandvika during 1908, less than a year after the death of Thomasine.

They were the parents of Norwegian author and cultural historian, Erik Lie (1868–1943). Jonas Lie was the uncle of the author Bernt Lie (1868–1916). Henriette Thomasine Lie was the aunt of Jonas Lie, the Norwegian-born American painter.[6]


  • Digte 1866
  • Den Fremsynte 1870
  • Tremasteren Fremtiden 1872
  • Fortællinger og Skildringer 1872
  • Lodsen og hans Hustru (The Pilot and His Wife) 1874
  • Faustina Strozzi 1875
  • Thomas Ross 1878
  • Adam Schrader 1879
  • Rutland 1880
  • Grabows Kat 1880
  • Gaa paa! 1882
  • Livsslaven 1883
  • Familjen paa Gilje 1883
  • En Malstrøm 1884
  • Otte Fortællinger 1885
  • Kommandørens Døtre 1886
  • Et Samliv 1887
  • Maisa Jons 1888
  • Digte 1889
  • Onde Magter 1890
  • Trold I-II 1891-92
  • Niobe 1893
  • Lystige Koner 1894
  • Naar Sol gaar ned 1895
  • Dyre Rein 1896
  • Lindelin 1897
  • Wulffie & Co 1897
  • Faste Forland 1899
  • Naar Jerntæppet falder 1901
  • Ulfvungerne 1903
  • Østenfor Sol, vestenfor Maane og bagom Babylons Taarn! 1905
  • Eventyr 1908
  • Jonas Lie og hans samtidige 1915


  1. ^ (Literature Network)Jonas Lie
  2. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Jonas Lie". Books and Writers ( Finland:  
  3. ^ (Store norske leksikon)Jonas Lie – utdypning
  4. ^ (Dagbladet)Jonas Lie, forfatterside
  5. ^ (Roald Dahl's Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories
  6. ^ (Store norske leksikon)Jonas Lie – Norsk Forfatter

Further reading

  • Lyngstad, Sverre Jonas Lie (Twaynes World Authors Series. Library Binding - June 1977)

External links

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