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Henrik Ibsen, Playwright
Henrik Ibsen, Playwright

HENRIK IBSEN (Playwright, 1828 - 1906) Born in Skien, Norway, Ibsen was apprenticed at age 15 to an apothecary, a situ­ation he detested. He wrote poetry to escape his misery and at 20 attended the univer­sity in Christiania (now Oslo). Within a short time his plays were being published and produced at the Christiania Theatre. In 1851, he was appointed to the theater at Bergen, where he served as director, designer and resident playwright. After six years learning his craft in Bergen, Ibsen moved back to Christiania, again working as a theater manager and artistic advisor. Plays from this period, such as The Vikings at Helgeland (1858) and Loves Comedy (1862), demonstrated his mature voice for the first time and, like many of his later plays, stirred up contro­versy on their first appearances. In 1864, Ibsen applied to the govern­ment for a poet's stipend; when it was refused, he exiled himself from Norway. The injustice he felt at this denial helped propel his two early masterpieces, the verse dramas Brand (1866) and Peer Gynt (1867). Ibsen spent most of his years of exile in Germany, though he frequently spent months at a time in Italy. He returned briefly to Norway for the publication of his huge epic Emperor and Galilean (1873). He published A Doll's House in 1879, followed by Ghosts (1881), An Enemy of the People (1882), The Wild Duck (1884), Rosmersholm (1886), The Lady from the Sea (1888), Hedda Gabler (1890), The Master Builder (1892), Little Eyolf (1894) and John Gabriel Borkman (1896). When We Dead Awaken, Ibsen's last play and a grand culmination of his themes, appeared in 1900. He returned to Christiania in 1891 to live out his life and died four years after suf­fering a physical and mental breakdown.