The Most Famous

WRITERS from Denmark

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This page contains a list of the greatest Danish Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 7,302 Writers, 46 of which were born in Denmark. This makes Denmark the birth place of the 27th most number of Writers behind Switzerland, and Belgium.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Danish Writers of all time. This list of famous Danish Writers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Danish Writers.

Photo of Hans Christian Andersen

1. Hans Christian Andersen (1805 - 1875)

With an HPI of 86.61, Hans Christian Andersen is the most famous Danish Writer.  His biography has been translated into 176 different languages on wikipedia.

Hans Christian Andersen ( AN-dər-sən, Danish: [ˈhænˀs ˈkʰʁestjæn ˈɑnɐsn̩] ; 2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875) was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his literary fairy tales. Andersen's fairy tales, consisting of 156 stories across nine volumes, have been translated into more than 125 languages. They have become embedded in Western collective consciousness, accessible to children as well as presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers. His most famous fairy tales include "The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Little Mermaid", "The Nightingale", "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", "The Red Shoes", "The Princess and the Pea", "The Snow Queen", "The Ugly Duckling", "The Little Match Girl", and "Thumbelina". His stories have inspired ballets, plays, and animated and live-action films.

Photo of Karen Blixen

2. Karen Blixen (1885 - 1962)

With an HPI of 73.95, Karen Blixen is the 2nd most famous Danish Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 70 different languages.

Baroness Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke (born Dinesen; 17 April 1885 – 7 September 1962) was a Danish author who wrote in Danish and English. She is also known under her pen names Isak Dinesen, used in English-speaking countries; Tania Blixen, used in German-speaking countries; Osceola, and Pierre Andrézel. Blixen is best known for Out of Africa, an account of her life while in Kenya, and for one of her stories, Babette's Feast. Each has been adapted as films and each won Academy Awards. She is also noted, particularly in Denmark, for her Seven Gothic Tales. Among her later stories are Winter's Tales (1942), Last Tales (1957), Anecdotes of Destiny (1958) and Ehrengard (1963). The latter was adapted as a romantic comedy film Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction, directed by Bille August and in association with Netflix, which released it on streaming in late 2023. Blixen was considered several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but did not receive it because judges were reportedly concerned about showing favoritism to Scandinavian writers, according to Danish reports.

Photo of Karl Adolph Gjellerup

3. Karl Adolph Gjellerup (1857 - 1919)

With an HPI of 72.63, Karl Adolph Gjellerup is the 3rd most famous Danish Writer.  His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.

Karl Adolph Gjellerup (Danish: [ˈkʰɑˀl ˈɛːˌtʌlˀf ˈkelˀəʁɔp]; 2 June 1857 – 11 October 1919) was a Danish poet and novelist who together with his compatriot Henrik Pontoppidan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1917. He is associated with the Modern Breakthrough period of Scandinavian literature. He occasionally used the pseudonym Epigonos.

Photo of Sigrid Undset

4. Sigrid Undset (1882 - 1949)

With an HPI of 72.30, Sigrid Undset is the 4th most famous Danish Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 98 different languages.

Sigrid Undset (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈsɪ̂ɡːɾiː ˈʉ̂nːseːt]; 20 May 1882 – 10 June 1949) was a Danish-born Norwegian novelist. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. Born in Denmark and raised in Norway, Undset had her first books of historical fiction published in 1907. She fled Norway for the United States in 1940 because of her opposition to Nazi Germany and the German invasion and occupation of Norway, but returned after World War II ended in 1945. Her best-known work is Kristin Lavransdatter, a trilogy about life in Norway in the Middle Ages, portrayed through the experiences of a woman from birth until death. Its three volumes were published between 1920 and 1922.

Photo of Johannes V. Jensen

5. Johannes V. Jensen (1873 - 1950)

With an HPI of 71.04, Johannes V. Jensen is the 5th most famous Danish Writer.  His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.

Johannes Vilhelm Jensen (Danish pronunciation: [joˈhænˀəs ˈvilhelˀm ˈjensn̩]; 20 January 1873 – 25 November 1950) was a Danish author, known as one of the great Danish writers of the first half of 20th century. He was awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the rare strength and fertility of his poetic imagination with which is combined an intellectual curiosity of wide scope and a bold, freshly creative style". One of his sisters, Thit Jensen, was also a well-known writer and a very vocal, and occasionally controversial, early feminist.

Photo of Henrik Pontoppidan

6. Henrik Pontoppidan (1857 - 1943)

With an HPI of 70.68, Henrik Pontoppidan is the 6th most famous Danish Writer.  His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.

Henrik Pontoppidan (Danish: [ˈhenˀʁek pʰʌnˈtsʰʌpitæn]; 24 July 1857 – 21 August 1943) was a Danish realist writer who shared with Karl Gjellerup the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1917 for "his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark." Pontoppidan's novels and short stories — informed with a desire for social progress but despairing, later in his life, of its realization — present an unusually comprehensive picture of his country and his epoch. As a writer he was an interesting figure, distancing himself both from the conservative environment in which he was brought up and from his socialist contemporaries and friends. He was the youngest and in many ways the most original and influential member of the Modern Break-Through.

Photo of Sven Hassel

7. Sven Hassel (1917 - 2012)

With an HPI of 63.75, Sven Hassel is the 7th most famous Danish Writer.  His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Sven Hassel was the pen name of the Danish-born Børge Willy Redsted Pedersen (19 April 1917 – 21 September 2012) known for his novels about German soldiers fighting in World War II. In Denmark he used the pen name Sven Hazel. He is one of the bestselling Danish authors, possibly second only to Hans Christian Andersen. Hassel claimed his authorship was based on being a veteran of the German Wehrmacht who had fought in the Battle of Berlin in 1945 until he surrendered to the Soviets. However, numerous post-war investigations have proved his claims to be false and outright fabrications. In fact Hassel (as Pedersen) was a Danish criminal who did join the German Army but was incarcerated for having lied about his convictions. He was not captured in Berlin because he was in prison in Denmark. In the post war period he gave false testament which led to the arrest and imprisonment of innocent people.

Photo of Georg Brandes

8. Georg Brandes (1842 - 1927)

With an HPI of 63.53, Georg Brandes is the 8th most famous Danish Writer.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Georg Morris Cohen Brandes (4 February 1842 – 19 February 1927) was a Danish critic and scholar who greatly influenced Scandinavian and European literature from the 1870s through the turn of the 20th century. He is seen as the theorist behind the "Modern Breakthrough" of Scandinavian culture. At the age of 30, Brandes formulated the principles of a new realism and naturalism, condemning hyper-aesthetic writing and also fantasy in literature. His literary goals were shared by some other authors, among them the Norwegian "realist" playwright Henrik Ibsen. When Georg Brandes held a series of lectures in 1871 with the title "Main Currents in 19th-century Literature", he defined the Modern Breakthrough and started the movement that would become Cultural Radicalism. In 1884 Viggo Hørup, Georg Brandes, and his brother Edvard Brandes started the daily newspaper Politiken with the motto: "The paper of greater enlightenment". The paper and their political debates led to a split of the liberal party Venstre in 1905 and created the new party Det Radikale Venstre.

Photo of Tove Ditlevsen

9. Tove Ditlevsen (1917 - 1976)

With an HPI of 63.51, Tove Ditlevsen is the 9th most famous Danish Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Tove Irma Margit Ditlevsen (Danish: [ˈtsʰoːvə ˈtitle̝wsn̩]; 14 December 1917 – 7 March 1976) was a Danish poet and author. With published works in a variety of genres, she was one of Denmark's best-known authors by the time of her death.

Photo of N. F. S. Grundtvig

10. N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783 - 1872)

With an HPI of 62.57, N. F. S. Grundtvig is the 10th most famous Danish Writer.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig (Danish: [ˈne̝koˌlɑjˀ ˈfʁeðˀˌʁek ˈse̝vəˌʁiˀn ˈkʁɔntvi]; 8 September 1783 – 2 September 1872), most often referred to as N. F. S. Grundtvig, was a Danish pastor, author, poet, philosopher, historian, teacher and politician. He was one of the most influential people in Danish history, as his philosophy gave rise to a new form of nationalism in the last half of the 19th century. It was steeped in the national literature and supported by deep spirituality. Grundtvig holds a unique position in the cultural history of his country. Grundtvig and his followers are credited with being very influential in the formulation of modern Danish national consciousness. He was active during the Danish Golden Age, but his style of writing and fields of reference are not immediately accessible to a foreigner, thus his international importance does not match that of his contemporaries Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard.

People

Pantheon has 52 people classified as Danish writers born between 1621 and 1995. Of these 52, 9 (17.31%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Danish writers include Jussi Adler-Olsen, Ole Nydahl, and Peter Høeg. The most famous deceased Danish writers include Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Blixen, and Karl Adolph Gjellerup. As of April 2024, 6 new Danish writers have been added to Pantheon including Johannes Jørgensen, Lise Nørgaard, and Karin Michaëlis.

Living Danish Writers

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Deceased Danish Writers

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Newly Added Danish Writers (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Writers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.