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Author Information: Verner von Heidenstam

 
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Karl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam. 1859-1940.

Verner von Heidenstam, who born into the Swedish aristocracy, studied at the Stockholm Art Academy with the intention of becoming a painter, before travelling widely in the Mediterranean and the Near East. During his travels his interests gradually shifted from painting to writing, and his first collection of poetry, Pilgrimage and Wander-Years (Vallfart och vandringsår) was published in 1888. He quickly became one of Sweden's leading literary figures, and published several additional volumes of poetry before devoting himself primarily to prose, including the historical works Hans Alienus (1892), The Charles Men (Karolinerna, 1897-98), St. Bridget's Pilgrimage (Heliga Birgittas pilgrimsfärjd, 1901), and a two-volume work The Tree of the Folkungs (Folkunga trädet, 1905-07), which chronicles the founding of the kingdom of Sweden, and The Swedes and their Chieftains (Svenska och deras hövdingar, 1908-10).

His writing is characterized by strong nationalism, and a romanticism which contrasts with the stark realism of the period. He is often compared with Selma Lagerlöf. Heidenstam wrote little after 1915, but his reputation was established. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1916 and the Henrik Stefens Prize in 1938.

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