Short biography

Born on 4 August in Gudbrandsdalen, Oppland County. Son of Peder Pedersen (1825-1907) and Tora Pedersen, née Olsen (1830–1919). Christened Knud Pedersen in Garmo church on 28 August.

The family moves to Hamsund Farm in the municipality of Hamarøy, Nordland County. Arrives 23 June.

First day of school 17 February.

Moves away from home to live with his maternal uncle Hans Olsen in the village of Presteid. Knut’s sister Sophie Marie (b. 1864) has lived there since she was little girl.

Finishes school and travels to Lom. Works in the store of his godfather, Torsten Hestehagen. Confirmation in Lom Church 4 October. Travels back to Hamarøy, where Nicolai A. Walsøe, a merchant on the island of Tranøy, employs him as a sales clerk.

Temporary position as a schoolteacher in Bø in the district of Vesterålen. Publishes The Enigmatic One.

Police constable in Bø in Vesterålen. Publication of A Reconciliation and Bjørger.

Leaves Northern Norway. Receives 1 600 kroner from merchant Zahl of Kjerringøy. Travels to Øystese in Hardanger and writes the story Frida. Visits Copenhagen, where his manuscript is rejected.

Travels to America. Works as sales clerk and farm worker, among other things.

In Minneapolis, Hamsun acts as deacon for the Unitarian church of Pastor Kristofer Janson and his wife Drude. Returns to Norway due to serious illness.

Uses the name Knut Hamsun – without the final “d” – for the first time in a public context, as the author of an article about Mark Twain.

Resides alternately in Valdres and Kristiania. Returns to America in August.

Leaves the U.S. for good. Takes up residence in Copenhagen and makes the acquaintance of Erik and Amalie Skram and the Brandes brothers. A fragment of Hunger is published in the Copenhagen periodical Ny Jord (New Ground) in November.

Lives in Kristiania, Copenhagen and Lillesand (Norway). The Danish publisher Gyldendalske Boghandel publishes Hunger. The novel represents Hamsun’s breakthrough as a writer.

Lecture tour throughout various Norwegian cities. Attacks the Norwegian literary establishment, championing the role of a new type of psychological literature.

Lives in Kristiansund, Copenhagen, and on the Danish island of Samsø. Publishes Mysteries.

Travels to Paris in the spring. Editor Lynge and Shallow Soil are published.

Kristiansand in the summer. Here he completes Pan, first begun in Paris, and published the same year. Back to Paris, where he meets the German publisher Albert Langen, among others.

Moves back to Norway. Probably meets Bergljot Göpfert, the wife of a diplomat, for the first time at Miss Hammer’s boarding house in Ljan outside of Kristiania. Publishes At the Gates of the Kingdom.

Marries Bergljot Göpfert, now divorced from her husband, on 16 May. Publishes Victoria. Receives a stipend and visits Helsinki.

Travels from Helsinki to St. Petersburg together with Bergljot, continuing to Istanbul via Moscow and the Caucasus.

Birth of daughter Victoria on 15 August. Hamsun lives a hectic café life in Kristiania and Copenhagen. Munken Vendt appears in print.

Publication of In Wonderland, inspired by Hamsun’s journey to the Orient in 1899.

Designs and builds the villa “Maurbakken”, settling down in Drøbak together with Bergljot and Victoria.

The marriage with Bergljot is dissolved. Bergljot and Victoria remain at Maurbakken, while Hamsun moves to a boarding house at Nordstrand near Oslo. Publishes Under the Autumn Star.

Meets Marie Andersen, a 27-year-old actress, in April. Publishes the double novel Benoni and Rosa.

Hamsun marries Marie Andersen on 25 June, and moves to Østerdalen in south-eastern Norway. Publishes A Wanderer Plays on Muted Strings.

The Hamsuns buy Skogheim, a farm property on Hamarøy, where they settle in the spring.

Birth of son Tore on 6 March. Publication of The Last Joy.

Publishes Children of the Age.

Birth of son Arild on 3 May.

Birth of daughter Ellinor on 23 October. Publication of Segelfoss Town.

In the spring, Marie and Knut sell Skogheim Farm and move to the southern coastal town of Larvik. Birth of daughter Cecilia on 13 May. Growth of the Soil appears in print.

Hamsun buys Nørholm Farm, located between Grimstad and Lillesand. Moves there with his family during the autumn.

Receives the Nobel Prize in Literature on 10 December in Stockholm. Publishes The Women at the Pump.

Publication of Chapter the Last.

Dispute between Knut and his youngest brother Thorvald about the rights to the name of Hamsun. In the end, Knut acquires the name by buying out his brother.

Psychotherapy sessions with Dr. Johannes Irgens Strømme between January and July.

Publishes Wayfarers.

Winter and spring in Aurdal, Oppland County. Prostate surgery with a long period of recovery. Publishes August.

Summer in Lillesand and Egersund. Wins the name dispute case against the family Petersen Nørholmen. Publishes The Road Leads On.

Works on the island of Egerøya near Egersund in the summer. Entreats the public to vote for the fascist party Nasjonal Samling (NS) in the general elections, but refrains from voting himself. Publishes The Ring is Closed.

German forces invade Norway on 9 April. Hamsun urges Norwegian soldiers to lay down their weapons.

Travels to Germany on 19 May, where he meets with propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. During a subsequent trip to Germany he meets Adolf Hitler at the “Eagle’s Nest” near Berchtesgaden.

On 7 May, the Norwegian daily Aftenposten prints Hamsun’s obituary for Hitler. On 26 May, Knut and Marie Hamsun are placed under house arrest at Nørholm. Following internment at Grimstad hospital and a nursing home in Landvik, Hamsun is transferred to a psychiatric clinic at Vinderen in Oslo.

Hamsun is discharged from the clinic, and moves back to Landvik in February. The forensic psychiatric statement concludes that Hamsun has “permanently impaired mental faculties”, and the prosecution decides not to initiate criminal proceedings. The Directorate for Compensation (Erstatningsdirektoratet) files a claim for damages against him. The case is repeatedly postponed.

The case involving damages comes up in Sand Magistrates’ Court in Grimstad on 16 December. Hamsun is accused of membership in the NS, and ordered to pay damages to the amount of 425 000 kroner. The judgement is appealed. Following the trial, Hamsun returns to Nørholm.

The Norwegian Supreme Court upholds the ruling of the magistrates’ court regarding Hamsun’s NS membership. The claim for damages is reduced to 325 000 kroner.

Hamsun’s final book, On Overgrown Paths, is published in September.

Knut Hamsun dies at home on 19 February, after having spent his final years in quiet seclusion. His urn was laid to rest at Nørholm.


English translation: Thilo Reinhard

Thorstein Brændmo
Hamarøy kommune
Ingeborg Lømo Bildeeier: Nasjonalbiblioteket