Monday, June 18, 2012

Baroness Karen Blixen ‘Isak Dinesen’

Karen Blixen August, 1928 aged 43
(photo courtesy of

Popularly known by her pseudonym Isak Dinesen, Karen Blixen was a Danish author famous for ‘Out Of Africa’, her account of living in Kenya. Karen was born on 17 April 1885 in Rungsted, Denmark. Blixen was known for writing in Danish and French but wrote in English, when living on a coffee farm in Kenya (1914 – 1931).
“God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road ”
A memorable quote by Karen

The late Karen will always remembered for her hand in shaping the early literary history of Kenya. The present-day leafy suburb of Nairobi, Karen is believed to have been named after her.
Karen came to Africa in 1914 to marry her second cousin, Baron Bror Blixen and do dairy farming in colonial Kenya. However, she later had to settle for her husband’s decision to farm coffee. The coffee plantation experienced a factory fire and persistent bad harvest and she was left to run it after their divorce.
In 1931, she returned to Denmark after the death of her lover Denys Finch Hatton and the Great Depression that plunged the coffee farming. In Denmark she took up writing as a career and in 1934, she published her first book, ‘Seven Gothic Tales’. The book got a lot of recognition and was published in U.S, United Kingdom, and Denmark.
In 1937, her second book, ‘Out of Africa’ was published and became the most famous book of her collection.
In 1939, she was awarded the Tagea Brandt Rejselegat (a Danish prize for women who excelled in arts or academic).
In 1944, her novel ‘The Angelic Avengers’ was published under her pen name, Pierre Andrezel.
Out of Africa and Babette’s Feast (1950) have been adapted into films that have won Oscars, in 1986 and 1987.
Other works include; ‘An Immortal Story’, ‘The Dreamers’, ‘Last Tales’ (1957), ‘Anecdotes of Destiny’ and ‘Shadows on the Grass’ (1960).
In 1950, she was awarded the Danish Ingenio et Arti medal.
She has also been nominated numerous times for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In Kenya, she left the Karen Blixen Museum situated in Karen that was officially opened in 1986.
In 1962, she died on her family estate in Denmark aged 77.

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