Jonas Lie
Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie (6 November 1833 – 5 June 1908) was a Norwegian
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 novelist, poet, and playwright who is considered to have been one of the Four Greats
The Four Greats
The Four Greats is a term used for four of the most influential Norwegian writers of the late 19th century, namely Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Henrik Ibsen, Alexander Kielland and Jonas Lie. The term was introduced by their publisher, Gyldendal, for advertising purposes...

of 19th century Norwegian literature, together with Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre...

, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson was a Norwegian writer and the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. Bjørnson is considered as one of The Four Greats Norwegian writers; the others being Henrik Ibsen, Jonas Lie, and Alexander Kielland...

 and Alexander Kielland
Alexander Kielland
Alexander Lange Kielland was one of the most famous Norwegian realistic writers of the 19th century. He is one of the so-called "The Four Greats" in Norwegian literature, along with Henrik Ibsen, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and Jonas Lie.-Background:Born in Stavanger, Norway, he grew up in a rich...



Jonas Lie was born at Hokksund
Hokksund is a town in the municipality of Øvre Eiker in the county of Buskerud in Norway.-History:Hokksund is the administrative centre, and largest town in Øvre Eiker, with a population of around 8,000. The river Drammenselva flows through the town, 500m from the centre. Hokksund has developed on...

 in Øvre Eiker
Øvre Eiker
Øvre Eiker is a municipality in Buskerud county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Eiker. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Hokksund. The old municipality of Eiker was divided into Øvre Eiker and Nedre Eiker on 1 July 1885.-Name:The Old Norse form of...

, in the county of Buskerud
is a county in Norway, bordering Akershus, Oslo, Oppland, Sogn og Fjordane, Hordaland, Telemark, and Vestfold. The county administration is located in Drammen.-Geography:...

, Norway. Five years after his son's birth, Lie's father was appointed sheriff of Tromsø
Tromsø is a city and municipality in Troms county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the city of Tromsø.Tromsø city is the ninth largest urban area in Norway by population, and the seventh largest city in Norway by population...

, which lies within the Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. For Epoch 2011, it is the parallel of latitude that runs north of the Equator....

, and young Jonas 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 Bergen Cathedral School (Bergen katedralskole) in Bergen, and in 1851 entered the University of Christiania, where he made the acquaintance of Ibsen and Bjørnson
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson was a Norwegian writer and the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. Bjørnson is considered as one of The Four Greats Norwegian writers; the others being Henrik Ibsen, Jonas Lie, and Alexander Kielland...

. He graduated in law in 1857, and shortly afterwards began to practice at Kongsvinger
is a town and is a municipality in Hedmark county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Glåmdal. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Kongsvinger....

, a town located between Lake Mjøsa
Mjøsa is Norway's largest lake, as well as one of the deepest lakes in Norway and in Europe as a whole, after Hornindalsvatnet. It is located in the southern part of Norway, about 100 km north of Oslo...

 and the border with Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....



Clients were not numerous at Kongsvinger and Lie found time to write for the newspapers and became a frequent contributor to some of the Christiania
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

 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
or Finnmárku is a county in the extreme northeast of Norway. By land it borders Troms county to the west, Finland to the south and Russia to the east, and by water, the Norwegian Sea to the northwest, and the Barents Sea to the north and northeast.The county was formerly known as Finmarkens...


Starting from 1874, the Norwegian Parliament had granted him an artist salary. Having obtained this small pension from the Government, he sought the greatest contrast he could find in Europe to the scenes of his childhood and started for Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. For a time he lived in North Germany, then he migrated to Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, spending his winters in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. 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
Kristiansund is a city and municipality on the western coast of Norway, in the Nordmøre district of Møre og Romsdal county. It was officially awarded township status in 1742, and it is still the major town for the region. The administrative center of the municipality is the city of Kristiansund...

. His works were numerous after that.


In his works, Jonas Lie often sought to reflect in his writings the nature, folk life, and social spirit of the nation of Norway. His writing often dealt with family life in diverse settings, including portraying the social and intellectual restrictions on women of the educated classes. Lie was a versatile writer, liberal and modern, but also a strong tradition bound.

Among Lie's finest works must be considered Familien paa Gilje (" The Family at Gilje: A Domestic Story of the Forties"), which was a striking document of the life of an officer's family, and the few options given to the daughters of such families.

His two collections of short stories called Trold involve the superstitions of the fishermen and coast commoners of northern Norway. The much anthologized short story Elias and the Draugh was included in a collection originally published by Gyldendal Norsk Forlag
Gyldendal Norsk Forlag
Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, commonly referred to as Gyldendal, is one of the largest Norwegian publishing houses .-Gyldendal Norsk Forlag AS:Gyldendal Norsk Forlag AS was founded in 1925...

, and was reprinted by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...

 in Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories (1983).

Personal life

In 1904, the King of Norway awarded Lie with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav. In 1860, he married his cousin Henriette Thomasine Lie (1833–1907). The couple had five children, of whom two died young. Jonas Lie died at Fleskum at Sandvika
is the administrative centre of the municipality of Bærum in Norway. It was declared a city by the municipal council in Bærum on 4 June 2003.Sandvika is situated approximately west of Oslo. It is the main transportation hub for Western Bærum, and has a combined bus and railway station. Sandvika is...

 during 1908, less than a year after the death of Thomasine.

They were the parents of Norwegian author and cultural historian, Erik Lie (1868–1943). Jonas Lie was the uncle of the author Bernt Lie (1868–1916). Henriette Thomasine Lie was the aunt of Jonas Lie
Jonas Lie (painter)
Jonas Lie was a Norwegian-born American painter. He is best known for colorful paintings of coastlines of New England and city scenes New York City. -Background:...

, the Norwegian-born American painter.

Other sources

  • Lyngstad, Sverre Jonas Lie (Twaynes World Authors Series. Library Binding - June 1977)

External links

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