Henrik Johan Ibsen
was a famous Norwegian dramatist whose well-made play
s were noted for dealing with psychological and social
problems won him recognition as a leader of modern drama
Ibsen was born on March 20, 1828, and educated in Skien. For a short time he helped an apothecary and began medical studies before beginning a lifetime association with the theater. He was stage manager-playwright at the National Theater at Bergen from 1851 to 1857 and afterwards director of the theater at Christiania (now Oslo) from 1857 to 1862. During these years he wrote his very first plays. From 1863 to 1891 Ibsen lived mostly in Italy and Germany. He subsisted first on a traveling scholarship and later on an annual pension, granted by the Storting, the Norwegian parliament. In 1891 he returned to Christiania; he May 23, 1906.
Ibsen's early work included two verse dramas. The first, Brand, dramatized the tragedy of blind devotion to a false sense of duty; the second, Peer Gynt (1867), related, in allegorical terms, the adventures of a charming opportunist. With Pillars of Society (1877), the story of an unscrupulous businessman, Ibsen began the series of plays that brought him worldwide fame. A Doll's House (1879), Ghosts (1881), and Hedda Gabler (1890) have probably been the most frequently performed of his plays. The first tells of a loveless marriage and an overprotected wife; the second deals with hereditary insanity and the conflict of generations; the third portrays the relationships of a strong-willed woman with those around her. Among the other plays written by Ibsen are An Enemy of the People (1882), The Wild Duck (1884), Rosmersholm (1886), The Lady from the Sea (1888), The Master Builder (1892), and When We Dead Awaken (1900).