HERMAN WILDENVEY (1885 - 1959)
The poet Herman Wildenvey was born 20th July 1885 at Portåsen. "Raised but not born at Portåsen" as he later expressed. Allthough a lot of his inspirations stems from his childhood at Portåsen. Herman married Gisken, born Jonette Kramer Andreassen, in Oslo the 4th February 1912. She was born in 1895 and died 1985. The couple settled in the coastal town of Stavern in 1923 and this was their home for the rest of their lives. He is buried at the honorary cemetery at Vår Frelsers Gravlund. Portåsen is on lease to Nedre Eiker Kommune and is used for cultural purposes like a Wildenvey festival each year in beginning of June.
Herman Wildenvey was one of, if not the most popular poet in Norway in the 1900´s. His first book of poems was published in 1907 "Nyinger", after returning from the USA. Totally he published 44 books with his own material. In addition he translated and rewrote novels and poems by Heinrich Heine (Buch der Lieder), William Shakespeare (As I like it), the Greek mythologist Aesoph, the French Paul Geraldy (Toi et moi), the Irish poet Liam O´Flaherty (Mr. Gilhooley) and also, but not least Earnest Hemingways "A farewell to guns" in 1929.
Some of Wildenveys books has been published several times and one "Ildorkestret" written in 1923, in totally 10.000 copies. Today poetry books, seldom sells more than 1000 copies.
Hermaman Wildenvey travelled extensively, both in Norway, Scandinavia, Europe and North America. His first trip to America could have been fatal. He was a passenger onboard the S/S Norge, when the ship hit Rockall, west of Ireland, 27th June 1904. Of more than 800 passengers, only about 150 survived. Among them was Herman Wildenvey. Later the same year he came to USA, where he stayed with his uncle in Brookfield, Hutchinson, Minnesota. In the autumn he start studying theology in St. Paul. The summer of 1905 he was teaching Norwegians in S. Dakota. He stayed in USA until he returned to Norway in 1907, for publishing his first book.
Wildenvey travels to USA in 1933 (New York and White Planes), 1934 and 1939. After the war he returns to America in 1950-51. He stays there for 6 months travelling around the "Norwegian" parts of USA, performing his works. He loved America and the "Norwegian" America loved him.
In honor of Herman Wildenvey - Wildenvey-Selskapet, have funded Herman Wildenveys Poesipris. Each year at Hermans birthday - 20th July - this price is handed over to a worthy person or organization promoting norwegian lyrics. The price consist of money and a bronze relief of Herman Wildenvey created by his friend Ørnulf Bast.
The cermony takes place at Hergisheim, as part of the annual Wildenvey-festival.
After living in Oslo and Copenhagen, the couple settled in the coastal town of Stavern in 1923 were they buildt their new home - Hergisheim in 1927. Herman Wildenvey was a hard working poet and most of his writings after 1927 has been done at his home called Hergisheim (Hermangiskenheim) or translated: The home of Hermann and Gisken. They lived here for the rest of their lives.
Today the "Hergisheim" is owned by Wildenveys daughter Hanna. She has layed down a considerable jobb taking care of her parents stately home, for future generations. Today, his birthplace Portåsen and home Hergisheim, can be visited on prior arrangements.
In 1955 Herman Wildenvey was honoured with the order "Commander of Saint Olav" in merit of his writing. This is one of the highest orders any Norwegian can receive and only a few do.
Herman Wildenvey spent many years of his life in Stavern, and to day seminars about this well loved poet, as well as poetry readings, are arranged. Summer time bubbles with life in "Norways Smile", which Wildenvey dubbed the town. "Happy Days" is an arrangement with a multivarious programme.
There are light entertainments, theatre and concerts dedicated to the honour and happiness of the thousands of boating and motoring tourists who stop off for a time in summer Stavern. Arriving from the sea you will see the pyramid shaped Hall of Remembrance, our national war memorial to fallen Norwegian seamen, a landmark you can look out for.