Hagerup, Inger (1905–1985)

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Hagerup, Inger (1905–1985)

Norwegian poet, playwright, prose writer and children's author. Born in Bergen, Norway, in 1905; died in 1985; married Anders Hagerup; children: two sons, Helge and Klaus (both writers).

Inger Hagerup was born in Bergen in 1905 and brought up in West Norway. After taking her university entrance examination, she worked for a year as a governess in the far north of Norway, but then moved to Oslo, where she earned her living as a secretary, proof-reader, and leftwing journalist.

The German occupation of Norway caused her to write the patriotic poem for which she is best remembered, "Aust-Vågøy, March 1941"; it concerns German reprisals on the local inhabitants after an Allied raid on the Lofoten Islands. Such poetry was circulated illegally among Resistance supporters. Hagerup spent the latter years of World War II in exile in Sweden, where she came into contact with other Norwegian writers. For a few years after her return to Oslo, she worked on the short-lived newspaper Friheten (Freedom), then the second-largest newspaper in Norway, and on the women's periodical Kvinnen og Tiden (Women and Current Affairs, 1945–55), edited by Kristen Hansteen .

Much of Hagerup's poetry is politically inspired, but in her love poetry she emphasizes the struggle between the demands of life and the isolation of women, split between their feelings of dependency and their feelings of distance in relation to men. Her tone is frequently that of the melancholy inherent in memories and desire. The individual is always central to her concerns, and her ability to write simply and directly gives her poems their force.

Hagerup's radio plays are extensions of the themes of her poetry: the gulf between dream and reality, the transitory nature of love, and the gap between lovers. The motifs are treated with amusement and irony, but also with tragic undertones. As a writer of children's poetry, Hagerup followed the tradition of English nonsense verse, playing with words, sounds and rhythms. Her collaboration with the Norwegian artist and illustrator Paul René Gaugin (grandson of the French painter Paul Gaugin) produced what have become three classics of children's literature. Hagerup also published three volumes of autobiography in the 1960s.


Beyer, E., ed. Norges Litteraturhistorie (A History of Norwegian Literature). Cappelen, Oslo, 1975.

Hagerup, Inger. Samlede dikt (Collected Poems). Aschehoug, Oslo, 1976.

Elizabeth Rokkan , retired Associate Professor of the Department of English at the University of Bergen, Norway

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