Hamsun started work on his play In the Grip of Life (1910) in the early part of 1909. He completed it in the summer of 1910 and it was given its first performance at the National Theatre that same autumn.
In the Grip of Life is about a former variety singer named Juliane Gihle. She betrays her rich but old husband with the young Alexander Blumenschøn, who is not sympathetically portrayed. She in turn is betrayed, finally ending in the arms of a black, 18 year old servant, "Boy".
This was Hamsun’s most successful play. It was soon performed in both Germany and Russia.