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Sigrid Undset

Born: 20-May-1882
Birthplace: Kallundborg, Denmark
Died: 10-Jun-1949
Location of death: Lillehammer, Norway
Cause of death: Respiratory failure
Remains: Buried, Lillehammer Church, Lillehammer, Norway

Gender: Female
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author

Nationality: Norway
Executive summary: Kristin Lavransdåtter

Sigrid Undset spent ten years as an office worker, writing in her evenings and spare time. Her first novel was rejected by publishers as un-interesting, so her next effort was somewhat racier, with the title character, Fru Marte Oulie (Mrs. Marta Oulie) admitting to adultery in the book's first sentence. It was quickly snatched by a publisher, and as prudish critics condemned it, the book became popular.

Her father was an archeologist specializing in the Middle Ages, and Undset became best known for her epic historical novels. Her most famous work, the three-volume novel Kristin Lavransdatter, tells the story of a medieval Norse woman's life, beginning with her youth, continuing through her unhappy marriage to an unworthy man, to her reckoning with God and finally chronicling the protagonist's death from bubonic plague. Undset was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928, for "powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages", and Kristin Lavransdatter has never gone out of print. She donated her Nobel cash honorarium (about $42,000) to children's charities.

She was born in Denmark, but Undset's family moved to Norway when she was an infant. In 1912 she married an artist, Anders Castus Svarstad, raising his three children and birthing two more before leaving him in 1919, while pregnant with a third child. When she converted to Catholicism in 1924, the marriage was dissolved due to her husband's previous divorce, and her post-conversion novels took on more vivid religious themes of guilt and absolution. In World War II, as the Nazis invaded Norway, she fled to Sweden and eventually came to the United States before returning to Norway after the war. Her portrait appears on Norway's 500 kroner banknote.

Liv Ullmann played the title role in a 1982 mini-series based on Undset's novel Jenny. Ullmann also wrote and directed a three-hour film based on Kristin Lavransdatter in 1995, which was wildly popular in Norway but poorly-received beyond the Scandinavian Peninsula.

Father: Ingvald Martin Undset (archeologist, b. 1853, d. 1893)
Mother: Charlotte Gyth
Husband: Anders Castus Svarstad (artist, m. 1912, annulled 1919, three children)

    High School: Mrs Ragna Nielsen's School, Stensgaten, Norway

    Nobel Prize for Literature 1928
    Norwegian Ancestry

Author of books:
Fru Marte Oulie (Mrs. Marta Oulie) (1907)
Den lykkelige alder (The Happy Age) (1908)
Gunnar's Daughter (1909)
Fortællingen om Viga-Ljot og Vigdis (1909)
Ungdom dikte (1910)
Jenny (1911)
Fattige Skjebner (1912)
Vaaren (1914)
Fortællinger om Kong Artur og Ridderne av det Runde Bord: Fortalt På Norsk (1915)
Splinten av Troldspeilet (Images in a Mirror) (1917)
De kloge jomfruer (1918)
Et kvindesynspunkt (1919)
Kransen (The Garland) (1920)
Kristin Lavransdatter (1922, three volumes)
Husfrue (The Mistress of Husaby) (1925)
Korset (The Cross) (1925)
Olav Audunssøn i Hestviken (The Master of Hestviken) (1927, four volumes)
Katholsk Propaganda (1927)
Gymnadenia (The Wild Orchid) (1929)
Etaper (1929)
Den Braendende Busk (The Burning Bush) (1930)
Ida Elisabeth (1932)
Etapper (Stages on the Road) (1933, memoirs)
To Europeiske Helgener (1933)
Elleve aar (Eleven Years, a/k/a Return to the Future) (1934, memoirs)
Norske Helgner (1934)
Den Trofaste Hustru (The Faithful Wife) (1936)
Selvportretter og Landskapsbilleder (1938)
Madame Dorothea (1939)
Tilbake til Fremtiden (1945)
Steen Steensen Blicher (1946)
Lykkelige Dager (1947)
Middelalder Romaner (1949)
Caterina av Siena (1951, published posthumously)
The Unknown Sigrid Undset (2001, collected works, published posthumously)

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