In the Footsteps of a Danish Diva

Karen Blixen (1885 – 1962), the world renowned Danish author of Babette’s Feast, Out of Africa, Seven Gothic Tales and many more, was a fascinating woman of numerous interests, trades and talents. Hunting, writing, painting, design and gardening were just a few of them. Come along as we follow in the footsteps of this truly enthralling and multitalented storyteller

A Not-so-humble Home
North of Copenhagen, in a scenic spot between the swirling sea and vivid forest, you will find Karen Blixen’s childhood home, Rungstedlund. Today, the private home is open to the public and the rooms are almost exactly as Blixen left them when she passed away in Rungstedlund in 1962.  Among the things you can see are wood-burning stoves that belonged to her relatives and the furniture she brought back from her farm in Africa. Impressive and beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers are displayed throughout the year on tables, chests and dressers, inspired by the bouquets Blixen used to arrange herself. There is also a gallery of her paintings and drawings and her private book collection. Truly a must-see place for any Blixen fan. (blixen.dk)

The Lion Hunter
“There is nothing in the world like it”, Karen Blixen wrote in a letter from Africa to her brother Thomas Dinesen just after her first hunt – she became known as quite the hunter. She lived on a coffee farm in Kenya for almost 17 years during which she hunted lions, rhinos and gazelles together with her husband Bror. If you, like Blixen, are into the thrill and history of hunting, you might want to pay a visit to the Danish Royal Hunting Lodge, the Hermitage Castle placed in the beautiful surrounding landscape of Dyrehaven, just North of Copenhagen. The Hermitage tells the exciting story of the historic royal hunts – of sweaty horses, barking dogs and extravagant banquets in the countryside. Note that the castle is only open by appointment. (kongeligeslotte.dk/da/slotte-og-haver/eremitageslottet)   

Playing Dress Up
As an uncompromising aesthete, Blixen was known far and wide for her playful wardrobe and dazzling flower decorations. She loved to create extravagant and creative costumes that she would wear when attending masquerades with the Danish bourgeoisie. “I know you by your mask and not by your face”, is one of her famous quotes. Give in to the love of beautiful colours, clothes and forms and pay a visit to Design Museum Denmark – Denmark’s largest museum of national and international design. The permanent collection counts furniture, fashion and textiles from all over the Western world from the Middle Ages up until today. Currently the special exhibition Crème de la Crème shows remarkable pieces from the older collections. (designmuseum.dk) 

 

Although blessed with many talents, Karen Blixen is first and foremost known for her skills as a writer. If you are interested in the history of some of the best Danish writers of the Danish Golden Age, take a trip to Bakkehuset on Frederiksberg – once a hot spot for the literary scene in the 1800s.  

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Article By

Kathrine Amann