Tuesday, 14 July 2009

At road’s end: Ebba Haslund (1917-2009), author and activist

The Norwegian author and activist Ebba Haslund died suddenly in her home in Oslo on Friday night, aged 91. Born in Seattle on 12 August 1917, Ebba Margareta Haslund Halvorsen was the author of numerous novels, plays, children’s books, short stories, epistles and reviews, translated both books and plays into Norwegian and was a frequent contributor to several newspapers. She was leader of Den norske forfatterforening (“The association of Norwegian authors”) 1971-1975.
Her first book, Også vi, was written during the war and, literally, dug up from her garden and published in the summer of 1945. Her last novel was published in the year she turned 90, last year she published a biography of the politician and leading feminist Berit Ås, while her third book of memoirs, Ingen frøkensport, is due to be published by Aschehoug this autumn. She was, in the words of her publisher William Nygaard, the last of a generation of authors which included names such as André Bjerke, Torborg Nedreaas, Inger Hagerup og Arne Skouen.
Ebba Haslund was perhaps as much known as a political activist and debater. She was a prominent member of the women’s rights movement, was deeply committed to the nuclear disarmament cause and once again stood in the front line of opposition against the war in Iraq. She frequently wrote in various newspapers – most recently a piece in Budstikka on 29 June – and had a regular column in Klassekampen until her death.
She was the recipient of numerous awards and prizes for her work in different fields and was also briefly an MP for the Conservative Party for a few weeks in 1963, substituting for John Lyng during his short tenure as Prime Minister. In later years she gave her vote to the Liberal Party.
Her funeral will take place next Tuesday at Høvik Church, close to Blommenholm where she lived for most of her adult life until moving to Oslo earlier this summer.
Mode Steinkjer’s obituary in Dagsavisen of this rare personality is worth reading:


Ebba Haslund’s CV can be found at the website of the Norwegian Parliament:


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