Henrik Ibsen's letter to Paul Botten-Hansen

BERGEN, 17th April, 1857
The following letter from Henrik Ibsen to Paul Botten-Hansen is reprinted from Letters of Henrik Ibsen. Trans. John Nilsen Laurvik & Mary Morison. New York: Fox, Duffield and Co., 1905.

MY DEAR OLD FRIEND,--First of all, accept a friendly greeting! Along with it I send you a few observations on the ancient Norwegian heroic ballads, with the request that they may appear in your paper. If you think you can make use of my article, please publish it in as large portions as possible; above all, divide it at the most suitable places, and also see to it that the spelling and punctuation are correct. For you will notice that I have had a clean copy made of my manuscript, and this I have only been able to glance through hurriedly.

I have often thought of writing to you, but have always put off doing it; I thought once, too, of sending you some sketches of my travels; but nothing came of that either. For this summer, however, I have long wanderings in prospect, and I may be able to send you something useful. I know of nothing interesting in my own affairs here to tell you, except that last year I became engaged to a daughter of Dean Thoresen, of this town. Her step-mother is the author of A Witness, and several other plays which you have noticed in the Nyhedsblad at the time of their appearance.

My very best thanks for your notice of The Feast at Solhaug. I sent my new play, Olaf Liljekrans, to the Chr(istiania) Theatre several months ago; but Borgaard is not the man to hurt himself by hurrying. He has refused to add my best play, Lady Inger of Ostraat, to the repertory until various changes, to which I will not consent, have been made. I sent it to Chr. Tönsberg about the beginning of January, asking him to publish it; and as it is highly important for me that this, my best work, should be brought out, I put the matter in your hands, and beg of you to do what you can for me. The play is at Tönsberg's; read it through and get me a publisher! I care nothing about the conditions--I will willingly forego any remuneration if only you succeed in getting it printed. I am sure, if you will use your good offices for me, that you will succeed. It has occurred to me that the play might possibly be published for the benefit of the building-fund of the Students' Union; I should in this case like to introduce it with a little prologue dedicated to Young Scandinavia. Dear friend, let me count on your help! I give you full liberty to do as you please with Lady Inger. Urge a publisher until he gives in! It would be kind in you to send me a few lines as soon as possible. Give me news of yourself and our mutual acquaintances in Christiania--Yours always,


[NOTE: C.P. Borgaard, a Dane, was artistic director of the Christiania Theatre from 1851 to 1863. He never produced Olaf Liljekrans (which was played in the Bergen Theatre in 1857); and when he also refused to produce The Vikings of Helgeland, Ibsen had a heated controversy with him.

Ibsen's Lady Inger of Östraat, written in 1854, and played at Bergen in 1855, was not printed until 1857, when it appeared in five successive numbers of the Illustreret Nyhedsblad, and subsequently as a separate publication.]


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