Dorothe Engelbretsdatter – Wikipedia

Norwegian writer

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 (1678)
Taare-Offer (1685)
Et kristeligt Valet fra Verden (1698)
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][2]


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.[3]

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.[4][5]

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 Engelbretsdatter’s reply “is incomparably the neater”. 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.[7]

Her first work, Siælens Sang-Offer was published 1678. In the midst of her troubles appeared her second work, the Taare-Offer, published for the first time in 1685. It is a continuous religious poem in four books. This was combined with Siælens Sang-Offer. In 1698 she brought out a third volume of sacred verse, Et kristeligt Valet fra Verden.[8]

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.

Collected works[edit]

Her collected works were published in two volumes (1955-1956)

  • Volume 1 (1955)[9]
  • Volume 2 (1956)[10]

New edition was released in 1999.[11][12]

See also[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

Further 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]