Amalie Skram

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Amalie Skram
Amalie Skram2.jpg
Amalie Skram
Born Berthe Amalie Alver
22 August 1846
Bergen, Norway
Died 15 March 1905 (age 58)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Pen name Amalie Mueller
Occupation novelist
Nationality Norwegian
Literary movement Naturalism
Spouse Bernt U A Müller
Erik Skram
Children 2 from first marriage
1 from second marriage

Amalie Skram (22 August 1846 – 15 March 1905) was a Norwegian author and feminist who gave voice to a woman's point of view with her naturalist writing.[1] She moved to Denmark in 1894 where she settled in Copenhagen with her husband, the Danish writer Erik Skram. She is considered the most important female writer of the Modern Breakthrough.[2]


Early life[edit]

Berthe Amalie Alver was born in Bergen, Norway. Her parents were Mons Monsen Alver and Ingeborg Lovise Sivertsen.[3]

Amalie had 4 brothers. Her parents operated a small business, which went bankrupt when Amalie was 17 years old. Her father emigrated from Norway to the United States to avoid a term of imprisonment and her mother was left with five children to care for.

Her mother pressured Amalie into a marriage with an older man, Bernt Ulrik August Müller (1837–1898), a ship captain, later mill owner. Following thirteen years of marriage and the birth of two sons she suffered a nervous breakdown, in part attributed to his infidelity. After several years in a mental hospital, she was divorced from Müller. Together with her two sons, she moved to Kristiania (now Oslo) and began her literary activities. There she met the Bohemian community, including writers Arne Garborg and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, with whom she remained in contact for many years.

Move to Denmark[edit]

Amalie and Erik Skram, double portrait by the Danish painter Harald Slott-Møller, 1895

In 1884 Amalie Müller married again, this time the Danish writer Erik Skram (1847–1923), a son of railroad director Gustav Skram.[3] She moved to Copenhagen, Denmark with her new husband. They had a daughter from this union. Her obligations as housewife, mother and author as well as the public's limited acceptance for her then-radical work, led to a further breakdown in 1894, after which Amalie lived in a psychiatric hospital near Roskilde. In 1900 her second marriage was dissolved. She died six years later in Copenhagen.

Literary career[edit]

In 1882 Amalie Skram debuted (as Amalie Müller) with the short story "Madam Høiers leiefolk", published in the magazine Nyt Tidsskrift.[4][5] Her work continued until her death. She dealt with topics she knew well.

Her work can be divided into three categories:

  • Novels concerning marriage, which explored taboo topics such as female sexuality, and the subservient status of women in that period. These works were perceived by many as overly provocative and resulted in open hostility from some segments of society.
  • Multi-generation novels, which dealt with the fate of a family over several generations. With these she explored the social institutions and conditions of the time and campaigned for change.
  • Mental hospital works such as Professor Hieronimus and Paa St. Jørgen, which dealt with the primitive and brutal conditions of such institutions of the period. Her novels created a major stir in Denmark and precipitated improvements in these institutions.

She is recognized as an early and strong proponent of what has come to be known as the women's movement, setting the early European trend. Her works, which had been generally forgotten with her death, were rediscovered and received strong recognition in the 1960s. Several of her works are currently available in recent translations to English.

Subsequent recognition[edit]

The Amalie Skram-prisen or Amalie Skram prize is a travel stipend that has been awarded annually since 1994 to Norwegian authors who show exceptional skill in addressing women's issues. A statue of Skram, by Maja Refsum (1897–1986), was unveiled at Convent Garden (Klosterhaugen) in Bergen 1949. A marble bust by Ambrosia Tønnesen (1859–1948) is in Bergen Public Library. She was also honored with a Norwegian postage stamp in 1996.[6][7][8]


  • Madam Høiers leiefolk (Madam Høier's Lodgers), 1882
  • Constance Ring, 1885. Available in English translation by Judith Messick and Katherine Hanson—ISBN 0-8101-1967-6
  • Karens Jul, 1885
  • Lucie, 1888. Available in English translation by Katherine Hanson—ISBN 1-870041-48-8
  • Fru Ines, 1891
  • Forraadt (Betrayed), 1892. Translated into English by Aileen Hennes and published by Pandora Press, Routledge & Kegan Paul in 1986.
  • Hellemyrsfolket (The People of Hellemyr), a tetralogy of the following four works:
    • Sjur Gabriel, 1887
    • To venner (Two Friends), 1888
    • S.G. Myre, 1890
    • Afkom, 1898
  • Børnefortellinger, short stories, 1890
  • Kjærlighed i Nord og Syd (Love in the North and South), short stories, 1891
  • Agnete, play, 1893
  • Professor Hieronimus, 1895
  • Paa St. Jørgen (At St. Jørgen), 1895
  • Mellom Slagene (Between Conflicts), letters, 1895
  • Sommer (Summer), short stories, 1899
  • Julehelg (Christmas Season), novel, 1900
  • Mennesker (People), 1905 (unfinished)


  1. ^ Amalie Skram (Store norske leksikon)
  2. ^ "Amalie Skram". Gyldendal. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  3. ^ a b Engelstad, Irene. "Amalie Skram". In Helle, Knut. Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  4. ^ Müller, Amalie (1882). Sars, J. E.; Skavlan, Olaf, eds. "Madam Høiers leiefolk". Nyt Tidsskrift (in Norwegian). Kristiania. 1: 557–570. 
  5. ^ Beyer, Edvard (1975). "Amalie Skram". Norges Litteraturhistorie (in Norwegian). 3. Oslo: Cappelen. p. 488. ISBN 82-02-02996-1. 
  6. ^ Maja Refsum (Store norske leksikon)
  7. ^ Ambrosia Tønnesen (Store norske leksikon)
  8. ^ Famous Norwegian Women on Stamps

External links[edit]