A Nobel Prize Winner was Here!

29.08.2021 hrs 15:20
My internship at Herttoniemi Manor summer 2021 has been an informative experience
to me. Thus far in my job I have catalogued over 2000 photographs to the website Desky
and they have showed me much about the history of Herttoniemi Manor. One
particularly interesting photograph I bumped into earlier in my internship was a photo
of an old man standing in front of the main building of Herttoniemi in 1934. The man on
the photo is none other than the Nobel prize winner in literature Verner von
Heidenstam (1859–1940)! Read more down below!

Carl Gustaf Verner (sometimes spelled as Werner) von Heidenstam was a Swedish author and poet. He was born on the sixth of July 1859 and died on the twentieth of May 1940. He was one of the most influential authors in Sweden during the late 19th and early 20th century. In many of his works he romanticises about the history of Sweden (particularly the Swedish empire). He began a period in Swedish literature history know today as “nittiotalet” (Eng. the nineties, 1888 to 1895 – the period was a reaction to the previous decade of realism and naturalism in literature). He was also a member of the Swedish Academy. 

Picture of Werner von Heidenstam at Herttoniemi. SOV.

Verner von Heidenstam won the Nobel prize in literature in 1916. Famous works from von Heidenstam are among other things Vallfart och vandringsår (Years of Pilgrimage and Wandering, 1888), Karolinerna I&II (Eng. The Carolean Soldiers I and II, 1897 and 1898), Heliga Birgittas pilgrimsfärd (Eng. Saint Bridget’s Pilgrimage, 1901) and Nya dikter (Eng. New Poems, 1915). Verner von Heidenstam had a very complicated relationship with August Strindberg. During the 1910s Strindberg criticized the Swedish monarchy (most famously in his article “Faraon-dyrkan” [Eng. Pharaoh-worship]), nationalism, militarism and the authors of the nineties (mainly von Heidenstam). The debate between Strindberg and the authors of the nineties was published in different newspapers where Strindberg and among others von Heidenstam argued about it. This culture- and political debate is known as the Strindberg feud (Strindbergfejden in Swedish). Strindberg and von Heidenstam became rivals due to the feud.

Verner von Heidenstam as a young man, painting by Oscar Björck. Wikipedia.

Verner von Heidenstam was married many times during his lifetime. He had all in all three wives and two partners during his lifetime. The Danish author Kate Bang was the last woman he lived with. Kate Bang and von Heidenstam were partners for over 20 years. She passed away in 1939. In the photo she can be seen standing next to author Emil Zilliacus (1878–1961), who stands behind von Heidenstam.

Verner von Heidenstam has been a very interesting character, but what was he doing in Herttoniemi in 1934? The answer is that he was there visiting the Topelius part of the museum.Verner von Heidenstam was friends with Zacharias Topelius (1818–1898). In the photo von Heidenstam is at Herttoniemi manor with his then partner Kate Bang. The curator of the museum, doctor Paul Nyberg (behind von Heidenstam to the right) and author Emil Zilliacus (behind von Heidenstam to the left), can also be seen in the photo. It is interesting and amazing to see famous people like Verner von Heidenstam visiting us.

Backman, Sigbritt 2016: Hertonäs gård - från säterier till museum. SOV: Helsingfors.