Bror von Blixen-Finecke

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Bror von Blixen-Finecke
Born
Bror Fredrik von Blixen-Finecke

(1886-07-25)25 July 1886
Died4 March 1946(1946-03-04) (aged 59)
Börringe, Sweden
NationalitySwedish
OccupationWriter, hunter
Spouse(s)
Karen Dinesen
(m. 1914; div. 1925)
,
Jacqueline Harriet Alexander
(m. 1928; div. 1935)
,
Eva Dickson (m. 1936–1938)
Parent(s)Hovjägmästare, Baron Fredrik von Blixen-Finecke and Countess Clara Krag-Juel-Vind-Frijs
RelativesHans von Blixen-Finecke (brother)

Baron Bror Fredrik von Blixen-Finecke (25 July 1886 – 4 March 1946) was a Swedish nobleman, writer, and African professional hunter and guide on big-game hunts. He was from 1914 to 1925 married to Karen Blixen (née Dinesen).

Personal life[edit]

Blixen's coat of arms

Bror Fredrik "Blix" von Blixen-Finecke and his twin brother, Hans Gustaf, were the youngest of seven children born to Baron Fredrik von Blixen-Finecke (1847–1919) and his wife, Countess Clara Krag-Juel-Vind-Frijs (1855–1925).[1]:3–7 His paternal grandfather was Baron Carl Frederik Axel Bror von Blixen-Finecke (1822–1873), who held the family seat at Näsbyholm Castle and served Denmark as its Minister of Foreign Affairs 1859–1860, while his grandmother was the Baron's first wife, Gustava Charlotta Ankarcrona (1821–1890), a descendant of John III of Sweden. Bror's maternal grandfather was Count Christian Emil Krag-Juel-Vind-Frijs, Denmark's prime minister 1865–1870 and a descendant of Frederick III of Denmark.

Blixen-Finecke attended agricultural college at Alnarp, and then managed the Stjetneholm farm, within the Nasbyholm estate. Blix and Hans had known "Tanne", Karen Dinesen, since childhood, since Blix's mother and Tanne's father were cousins. Hans had actually turned down Tanne, before she became attached to Blix. A visit from Blix's maternal uncle, Count Mogens Frijs, and his tales of life in Naivasha, inspired Blix to seek his future in Africa.[1]:12,17–18[2]:4–5

Bror Fredrik von Blixen-Finecke became engaged to Karen Dinesen, who followed him to Kenya in 1913, where they were married on 14 January 1914 in Mombasa. They then ran a 4,500 acre coffee plantation at the foot of Ngong Hills, bought by Blixen from Ake Sjogren, using funds provided on behalf of her family. They lived in the manager's house, located on the Mbagathi River, until 1917, when they moved into the main two-story stone farm house. During WWI, Blix served in Lord Delamere's patrols along the border with German-Tanganyika, and Tanne helped transport supplies.[1]:33–36,40–43,47 According to Peter Capstick, "It was not long after Blixen and his wife settled on their farm that he started womanizing." Karen became infected with syphilis as a consequence. Capstick goes on to say, "His forays into town and his often wild socializing at the Muthaiga Club, coupled with a legendary indiscipline when it came to money and honoring his debts, soon gave the charming Swede a notorious reputation." The farm did not prosper, the couple separated, and eventually divorced. Yet, thirty years after their first safari, Karen was quoted as saying, "If I should wish anything back of my life, it would be to go on safari once again with Bror Blixen."[2]:Editor's Note,14,26

Aage Westenholz, Tanne's maternal uncle and family trustee after her father died, turned the farm into a company in 1918 with Aage as the chairman. Blaming the farm's losses on Blix, Aage banned Blix from the farm in the spring of 1920, and by 1921 Tanne and Blixen were separated.[1]:20,54,61,63In Blixen's words, "Difficulty upon difficulty arose. The plantation had to be sold-my home was broken up. I stood there in the forest empty-handed. But I still had my sporting rifle."[2]:26 Blixen then took up professional hunting from 1922 to 1928, with time out in 1927 to accompany Charles Markham in crossing Africa east to west, first in The Vagrant from Stanleyville to Kano, then 2,818 miles via International Harvester truck to Paris across Sahara Desert.[1]:69,103–108

On 1 August 1928, he married the British aristocrat Jacqueline Harriet "Cockie" Alexander.[3] They managed Singu, a 5000-acre property at Babati, owned by Blixen's first hunting client Dick Cooper. In 1929, Blixen concentrated on his safari business and became Cooper's East Africa agent. The safari work enabled the Blixens to purchase their own farm at Ndasagu.[1]:123,129,132,135 When he was visited in Kenya by the Swedish adventurer and aviator Eva Dickson in 1932, while "Cockie" was visiting her mother in England, the marriage quickly ended, as he and Eva became lovers.[4] In 1935, he and "Cockie" divorced,[3] and the following year he married Eva in New York, and they spent their honeymoon together with Ernest Hemingway and his wife Martha Gellhorn sailing around Cuba and the Bahamas.[4] Cockie was quoted by Ulf Aschan as saying, "I have never regretted anything-except leaving Blix. He was the love of my life."[1]:119,192

In March 1938, Eva Dickson von Blixen-Finecke died in a car crash outside Baghdad, on her way back from Calcutta after having been forced to give up her big dream of driving the Silk Road to Beijing.[4] Bror von Blixen-Finecke didn't learn about her death until 28 July 1938, and he was devastated by the news.[4]

Blix left Africa for good in 1938, eventually returning to his native Sweden. He died in a 1946 car accident, in which he was a passenger. Von Blixen-Finecke's identical twin, Hans, had died in a plane crash in 1917.[1]:11,215,228–230

Big-game hunter in Africa[edit]

Blixen formed Tanganyika Guides Ltd, for professional hunting, in partnership with Philip Percival and Jeff Manley. Blixen and Percival became East Africa's leading hunters. According to Ulf Aschan, "Safaris lasted from one month to three. A meticulous organizer, Blix never left anything to chance. Fly camps, fuel depots, airstrips, provisions, and staff were always laid out well in advance. He would also take time to reconnoiter an area thoroughly beforehand to check on waterholes and general game movements."[1]:131–132,140

On 16 Nov. 1928, according to Bror, he was approached by the Prince of Wales in his quest to "bag a lion". Bror and his "old friend" Denys Finch Hatton proceeded to help the prince do so followed by a hunt for buffalo. They had a repeat expedition with the prince, but for elephant, in Feb. 1930.[2]:178–204[1]:124–129,137–139

Other famous personages Blixen guided on a hunt were Ernst Udet, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Jr., George Washington Vanderbilt III, Ernest Hemingway, Freddie Guest, Winston Frederick Churchill Guest, and Lord Marmaduke Furness.[1]:135–136,140,148–149,168,187–188,207

According to Beryl Markham in her memoir West with the Night, "He is six feet of amiable Swede and, to my knowledge, the toughest, most durable White Hunter ever to snicker at the fanfare of safari or to shoot a charging buffalo between the eyes while debating whether his sundown drink would be gin or whiskey."[5]

"Hunting with Blix was a magnificent experience," said Ebba Hamilton, "With his quiet, almost lyrical narrative of what happened around us, he got nature to live like I have never experienced since.[1]

Rose Cartwright stated that Blix was, "An excellent shot, a meticulous organizer, and very good teacher. He was on a par with the best African trackers, and they admired him greatly for his skills and stamina."[1]:186–187

Writing[edit]

Bror von Blixen-Finecke was a talented writer; his best-known book was his autobiography, African Hunter (1938), long regarded as fine Africana since its translation from Swedish in 1938 by F. H. Lyon.[6] In 1988 St. Martin's Press published a collection of bon Blixen-Finecke's letters to family and friends in a book titled Bror Blixen: The Africa Letters.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

In the film Out of Africa (1985), which is based on Karen Blixen's memoirs of the same name, the role of Bror von Blixen-Finecke is played by Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, who also plays his brother Hans.

See also[edit]

List of famous big game hunters

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Aschan, Ulf (1987). The Man Whom Women Loved. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780312022495.
  2. ^ a b c d von Blixen-Finecke, Bror. Capstick, Peter (ed.). African Hunter. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312009593.
  3. ^ a b The Peerage: Jacqueline Harriet Alexander Linked 2014-04-06
  4. ^ a b c d Populär Historia, 23 januari, 2009: Äventyraren Eva Dickson Archived 2014-02-20 at the Wayback Machine (in Swedish) Linked 2014-04-06
  5. ^ Markham, Beryl. West with the night (First ed.). San Francisco: North Point Press. p. 201. ISBN 9780865471184. OCLC 9642470.
  6. ^ 'African Hunter' Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke Tr. by FH Lyon. Editor's Note to the Reprint Version, (1986) by Peter Hathaway Capstick. The Peter Capstick Library, St. Martin's Press, NY ISBN 0-312-00959-3
  7. ^ 1886-1946., Blixen-Finecke, Bror, baron von, (1988). The Africa letters. Kleen, G. F. V. (1st ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312014686. OCLC 16923811.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  • Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Adelslexikon I, vol. 53, Limburg (Lahn) 1972, pp. 432–433.