Jens Bjørneboe

Jens Bjørneboe (1920-1976) was a Norwegian writer and playwright, educated as a painting artist.

From 1950 he was a teacher at the Rudolf Steiner School in Oslo for a number of years.


(Objekt ID 4406)
Object type Person
Born October 9, 1920 (dead May 9, 1976)
Functions Author, Dramatist/Playwright
Nationality Norwegian
Gender Male
Adresse Oslo, Norway

Jens Bjørneboe made his debut in 1951 with the poetry collection Dikt (literally: Poems), and later published the poetry collections Ariadne (1953) and Den store by (literally: The Big City) (1958).

He wrote a number of novels, including Ere the Cock Crows AKA Before the Rooster Crows (1952), Jonas AKA The Least of These (1955), a sharp attack on the conditions in primary school, Under en hårdere himmel (literally: Beneath a harder sky) (1957), a critical presentation of the Norwegian post-war trial, Vinter i Bellapalma (literally: Winter in Bellapalma) (1958), Blue Man (1959) and The Evil Shepherd (1960; filmed in 1962 under the title Tonny), an attack on the Norwegian prison system. It was later transformed into a satirical musical titled Til lykke med dagen (literally: Happy Birthday) (1965), performed in a number of Nordic theatres.

The Dream and the Wheel (1964) is a biographic novel based on Ragnhild Jølsen's life and writing.

The pornographic novel Without a Stitch (1966; published anew in 1988) he published anonymously. The book was condemned, labelled 'obscene' and embargoed in 1967.

In 1966 the philosophical novel Moment of Freedom came, the first volume in a trilogy called The History of Bestiality. It was favourably received and was followed by Powderhouse AKA The Powder Tower (1969) and The Silence (1973, The Norwegian Critics' Award).

In 1972 came Hertug Hans (literally: Duke Hans) (written in 1948), in many ways a key to The History of Bestiality. The same year he also published the essay collection Politi og anarki (literally: Police and Anarchy), and the next year Tilfellet Torgersen* (The Case of Torgersen) (play).

His last novel, The Sharks, was published in 1974.

Bjørneboe also wrote several plays, including The Bird Lovers (1966), Semmelweiss (1967) and Amputation (1970), performed in different European theatres.

Under en mykere himmel (literally: Beneath a softer sky) (1976) is a collection of his articles about Steiner schooling from the journal Ny skole (literally: New School).

He was awarded The Dobloug Prize in 1974.

Jens Bjørneboe lived a rough life, had alcohol problems and at times suffered depressions. He died by his own hand.

A collection of Jens Bjørneboe's travelogues, short stories and short prose was published posthumously under the title Lanterner (literally: Lanterns) in 1977. The non-fiction books Om Brecht (literally: On Brecht) and Om teater (literally: On theatre) were also both published posthumously, in 1977 and 1978 respectively.

The theatre production Tilfellet Torgersen* (The Case of Torgersen), produced by Ibsen Theatre in2006, was nominated for The Hedda Award 2007 in the theatre project of the year category. This production was based on the play by Jens Bjørneboe from 1973.

Bjørneboe's passion has led many readers to him, not least among youth, and several theses have been written on the writer or his writing.


The Hedda Award

Store Norske Leksikon,

*Not yet translated into English. The title within parentheses is the Norwegian title's literal meaning.

Artworks (15)
Title Publiseringsdato Role
Moment of Freedom 1966, Literature, Novel – Author
Amputasjon 1970, Script – Author
Haiene 1974, Literature, Novel – Author
Uten en tråd 1966, Literature, Novel, Fiction – Author
Dongeri Script – Author
Til lykke med dagen 1965, Script – Author
The History of Bestiality 1966, Literature, Novel – Author
The Soldier Song Literature, poem – Author
Tilfellet Torgersen* (The Case of Torgersen) 1972, Script – Author
Mea Maxima Culpa Literature, poem, Fiction – Author
Jonas 1955, Literature, Novel – Author
Bird Lovers 1964, Script, Drama – Author
Semmelweis 1968, Script, Drama, Apprentice play – Author
Bestialitetends historie Script – Author
Røde Emma Script – Author