Dorothe Engelbretsdatter

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Dorothe Engelbretsdatter
Born (1634-01-16)16 January 1634
Bergen, Norway
Died 19 February 1716(1716-02-19) (aged 82)
Pen name "Bergens Debora"
Occupation Poet and Hymn Writer
Nationality Norwegian
Notable works Siælens Sang-offer
Spouse Ambrosius Hardenbeck

Dorothe Engelbretsdatter (16 January 1634 – 19 February 1716) was a Norwegian author. She principally wrote hymns and poems which were strongly religious. She has been characterized as Norway's first recognized female author as well as Norway's first feminist before feminism became a recognized concept.[1]


Dorothe Engelbretsdatter was born in Bergen, Norway. She was the daughter of Rector and Vicar, Engelbret Jørgenssøn (1592-1659) and Anna Wrangel. Her father was originally head of Bergen Cathedral School, and later dean of Bergen Cathedral. In her youth, Dorothe spent some time in Copenhagen. In 1652, she married Ambrosius Hardenbeck (1621-1683), a theological writer famous for his flowery funeral sermons, who succeeded her father at the Cathedral in 1659. They had five sons and four daughters.[2]

Title engraving of Taare-Offer (1685) showing Engelbretsdatter at work


In 1678 her first volume appeared, Siælens Sang-Offer published at Copenhagen. This volume of hymns and devotional pieces, very modestly brought out, had an unparalleled success. The first verses of Dorothe Engelbretsdatter are commonly believed to have been her best.[3]

The fortunate poet was invited to Denmark, and on her arrival at Copenhagen was presented at court. She was also introduced to Thomas Hansen Kingo, the father of Danish poetry. The two greeted one another with improvised couplets, which have been preserved and of which the poet's reply is incomparably the neater.[4] King Christian V of Denmark granted her full tax freedom for life. Her Taare-Offer (1685) was dedicated to Queen Charlotte Amalia, the wife of King Christian V.[5]

In 1683, her husband died. She had nine children, but seven of them died young and her two adult sons lived far away from Bergen. She lost her house in the great fire in 1702 in which 90 percent of the city of Bergen was destroyed. Her re-placement house was not available until 1712. Her sorrow is evident in examples such as the poem Afften Psalme. She died on 19 February 1716.[4]


Her first work, Siælens Sang-Offer ("The Souls Spiritual Offering of Song") was published 1678. In the midst of her troubles appeared her second work, the Taare-Offer ("Sacrifice of Tears"), published for the first time in 1685. It is a continuous religious poem in four books. This was combined with Siælens Sang-Offer which was dedicated to Jesus. No fewer than three editions of the united works were published before her death, and many after it.[4] In 1698 she brought out a third volume of sacred verse, Et kristeligt Valet fra Verden ("A Christian Farewell to the World").[6]

See also[edit]



Other sources[edit]

  • Engelbretsdotter, Dorothe; ed. by K. Valkner (1999) Samlede skrifter (Oslo: Aschehoug) ISBN 978-82-03-18116-0
  • Akslen, Laila (1998) Norsk barokk: Dorothe Engelbrettsdatter og Petter Dass i retorisk tradisjon (Oslo: Cappelen) ISBN 978-82-456-0445-0
  • Akslen, Laila (1970) Feminin barokk: Dorothe Engelbretsdotters liv og diktning (Oslo: Cappelen) ISBN 978-8245604450

Related Reading[edit]

  • Grindal, Gracia (2011) Preaching from Home: The Stories of Seven Lutheran Women Hymn Writers (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing) ISBN 9780802865014

External links[edit]