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This page is about Jonas Lie the novelist. For the NS minister, see Jonas Lie (government minister); for the artist, see Jonas Lie (painter)
Jonas Lie

Born November 6, 1833
Modum, Eiker, Norway
Died July 5, 1908 (aged 84)
Stavern, Larvik, Norway
Occupation Novelist, poet, fairy tales writer, journalist, and lawyer
Nationality Norway Norwegian
Literary movement Realism

Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie (November 6, 1833 – July 5, 1908) was a Norwegian novelist, considered to be one of the Four Greats of 19th century Norwegian literature.



Jonas Lie was born in Modum in Eiker, Buskerud county in southern Norway. Five years after his son's birth, Lie's father was appointed sheriff of Tromsø, which lies within the Arctic Circle, and young Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie, spent six of the most impressionable years of his life at that remote port.

He was sent to the naval school at Fredriksværn; but his defective eyesight caused him to give up a life at sea.

He transferred to the school Bergen katedralskole in Bergen, and in 1851 entered the University of Christiania, where he made the acquaintance of Ibsen and Bjørnson. He graduated in law in 1857, and shortly afterwards began to practice at Kongsvinger, a city in located between the lake Mjøsa and Sweden.

Clients were not numerous at Konsvinger and Lie found time to write for the newspapers and became a frequent contributor to some of the Christiania journals. His first work was a volume of poems which appeared in 1866 and was not successful. During the four following years he devoted himself almost exclusively to journalism, working hard and without much reward, but acquiring the pen of a ready writer and obtaining command of a style which has proved serviceable in his subsequent career. In 1870 he published Den Fremsynte ("The Visionary or Pictures From Nordland"), a powerful tale of the sea and northern superstitions. In the following year he revisited Nordland and traveled into Finnmark.

Having obtained a small traveling pension from the Government, immediately after his journey to Nordland, he sought the greatest contrast he could find in Europe to the scenes of his childhood and started for Rome. For a time he lived in North Germany, then he migrated to Bavaria, spending his winters in Paris. In 1882 he visited Norway for a time, but returned to the continent of Europe. His voluntary exile from his native land ended in the spring of 1893, when he settled at Holskogen, near Kristiansund. His works were numerous after that.

Jonas Lie died in Stavern on July 5, 1908.


Among Lie's finest works must be considered Familien paa Gilje (The Gilje family), which with its subtitle an interior from the 40s was a striking document of the life of an officer's family, and the few options given to the daughters of such families. One might consider it a Norwegian equivalent of British authors such as Austen and Brontë.

His two collections of short stories called Trold involve the superstitions of the fishermen and coast commoners of northern Norway. One of the stories was selected by Roald Dahl for his book of the 14 finest ghost stories of the world.


  • Digte 1866
  • Den Fremsynte 1870
  • Tremasteren Fremtiden 1872
  • Fortællinger og Skildringer 1872
  • Lodsen og hans Hustru 1874
  • Faustina Strozzi 1875
  • Thomas Ross 1878
  • Adam Schrader 1879
  • Rutland 1880
  • Grabows Kat 1880
  • Gaa paa! 1882
  • Livsslaven 1883
  • Familjen paa Gilje 1883
  • En Malstrøm 1884
  • Otte Fortællinger 1885
  • Kommandørens Døtre 1886
  • Et Samliv 1887
  • Maisa Jons 1888
  • Digte 1889
  • Onde Magter 1890
  • Trold I-II 1891-92
  • Niobe 1893
  • Lystige Koner 1894
  • Naar Sol gaar ned 1895
  • Dyre Rein 1896
  • Lindelin 1897
  • Wulffie & Co 1897
  • Faste Forland 1899
  • Naar Jerntæppet falder 1901
  • Ulfvungerne 1903
  • Østenfor Sol, vestenfor Maane og bagom Babylons Taarn! 1905
  • Eventyr 1908
  • Jonas Lie og hans samtidige 1915


The Visionary or Pictures From Nordland By Jonas Lie; Translated from the Norwegian by Jessie Muir; Hodder Brothers; London; 1894

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JONAS LAURITZ EDEMIL LIE (1833-1908), Norwegian novelist, was born on the 6th of November 1833 close to Hougsund (Eker), near Drammen. In 1838, his father being appointed sheriff of Tromso, the family removed to that Arctic town. Here the future novelist enjoyed an untrammelled childhood among the shipping of the little Nordland capital, and gained acquaintance with the wild seafaring life which he was afterwards to describe. In 1846 he was sent to the naval school at Frederiksvaern, but his extreme near-sight unfitted him for the service, and he was transferred to the Latin school at Bergen. In 1851 he went to the university of Christiania, where Ibsen and Bjornson were among his fellow-students. Jonas Lie, however, showed at this time no inclination to literature. He pursued his studies as a lawyer, took his degrees in law in 1858, and settled down to practice as a solicitor in the little town of Kongsvinger. In 1860 he married his cousin, Thomasine Lie, whose collaboration in his work he acknowledged in 1893 in a graceful article in the Samtiden entitled "Min hustru." In 1866 he published his first book, a volume of poems. He made unlucky speculations in wood, and the consequent financial embarrassment induced him to return to Christiania to try his luck as a man of letters. As a journalist he had no success, but in 1870 he published a melancholy little romance, Den Fremsynte (Eng. trans., The Visionary, 1894), which made him famous. Lie proceeded to Rome, and published Tales in 1871 and Tremasteren "Fremtiden" (Eng. trans., The Barque "Future," Chicago, 1879), a novel, in 1872. His first great book, however, was Lodsen og hans Hustru (The Pilot and his Wife, 1874), which placed him at the head of Norwegian novelists; it was written in the little town of Rocca di Papa in the Albano mountains. From that time Lie enjoyed, with Bjornson and Ibsen, a stipend as poet from the Norwegian government. Lie spent the next few years partly in Dresden, partly in Stuttgart, with frequent summer excursions to Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian highlands. During his exile he produced the drama in verse called Faustina Strozzi (1876). Returning to Norway, Lie began a series of romances of modern life in Christiania, of which Thomas Ross (1878) and Adam Schrader (1879) were the earliest. He returned to Germany, and settled first in Dresden again, then in Hamburg, until 1882, when he took up his abode in Paris, where he lived in close retirement in the society of Scandinavian friends. His summers were spent at Berchtesgaden in Tirol. The novels of his German period are Rutland (1881) and Gaa paa ("Go Ahead!" 1882), tales of life in the Norwegian merchant navy. His subsequent works, produced with great regularity, enjoyed an immense reputation in Norway. Among the best of them are: Livsslaven (1883, Eng. trans., "One of Life's Slaves," 1895); Familjen paa Gilje ("The Family of Gilje," 1883); Malstroem (1885), describing the gradual ruin of a Norwegian family; Et Samliv ("Life in Common," 1887), describing a marriage of convenience. Two of the most successful of his novels were The Commodore's Daughters (1886) and Niobe (1894), both of which were presented to English readers in the International library, edited by Mr Gosse. In1891-1892he wrote, under the influence of the new romantic impulse, twenty-four folk-tales, printed in two volumes entitled Trold. Some of these were translated by R. N. Bain in Weird Tales (1893), illustrated by L. Housman. Among his later works were the romance Naar Sol gaar ned ("When the Sun goes down," 1895), the powerful novel of Dyre Rein (1896), the fairy drama of Lindelin (1897), Faste Forland (1899), a romance which contains much which is autobiographical, When the Iron Curtain falls (1901), and The Consul (1904). His Samlede Vaerker were published at Copenhagen in 14 vols. (1902-1904). Jonas Lie left Paris in 1891, and, after spending a year in Rome, returned to Norway, establishing himself at Holskogen, near Christiansand. He died at Christiania on the 5th of July 1908. As a novelist he stands with those minute and unobtrusive painters of contemporary manners who defy arrangement in this or that school. He is with Mrs Gaskell or Ferdinand Fabre; he is not entirely without relation with that old-fashioned favourite of the public, Fredrika Bremer.

His son, Erik Lie (b. 1868), published a successful volume of stories, Med Blyanten, in 1890; and is also the author of various works on literary history. An elder son, Mons Lie (b. 1864), studied the violin in Paris, but turned to literature in 1894. Among his works are the plays Tragedier om Kjaerlighed (1897); Lombardo and Agrippina (1898); Don Juan (1900); and the novels, Sjiifareren (1901); Adam Ravn (1903) and I. Kvindensnet (1904). (E. G.)

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