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Profile of the Day: Henrik Wergeland

On this day in 1808, Norwegian poet, playwright, and historian Henrik Wergeland was born. Remembered as one of Norway’s foremost poets, Wergeland is often regarded as a symbol of the country’s independence.

Image: Henrik Wergeland / National Library of Norway

Wergeland was born on June 16, 1808 in Kirstiansand, Norway. He was the oldest son of Alette Dorthea Thaulow and Nicolai Wergeland, who served as a member of the Norwegian Constituent Assembly at Eidsvoll in 1814. Wergeland was not the only famous writer in his family. His sister, Camilla Collett, also became one of Norway’s most influential writers and was a passionate advocate of women’s rights.

A leading pioneer in the development of a distinctly Norwegian literary heritage, Wergeland is known today as the country’s national poet. Celebrated for his lyrical and patriotic poems, Wergeland was a vocal advocate of the independence of Norway and its people. He fought for the celebration of the signing of the Norwegian constitution on May 17, which would become the Norwegian National Day. However, he fiercely opposed the constitution’s ban on Jewish immigration to the country and passionately wrote to have the clause removed. Sadly, he would not live to see the ban lifted in 1851.

Wergeland died on July 12, 1845 at the age of 37.

View Henrik Wergeland’s Geni Profile

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