Gröndal's House UNESCO Cities of Literature Residency

International Writer‘s Residence in Reykjavík

In 2019 the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature for the first time offered a free residency for a writer from another UNESCO City of Literature. The first writer to recide in Gröndal's House as a UNESCO City of Literature guest writer was Chantal Ringuet, who was born and raised in Québec City, a UNESCO City of Literature since 2017.

In addition to working on her poetic project, Chantal wrote the following text while residing in the flat and was generous enough to share with us and our readers:


Afternoon in the studio

A cup of coffee on the table, I am reading
and taking notes. A group of people stop
on Fisherman street, next to the house.
They must be ten, fifteen people. Tourists.
There are many guided tours in the neighborhood.

“This red house belonged to Benedikt Gröndal,
one of Iceland’s most famous writers,” says
the guide. Two, three people bent over,
looking through my window. Someone asks: “Is there anyone
living in this house?” This question makes me smile.

The guide responds: “The house presents
an exhibition about Gröndal, it is open during summertime.
It is closed now”. Two people bent over. Women.
Trying to see inside the enlightened studio.
I don’t see the guide, but I can hear her saying:

“Because of the lack of trees in Reykjavik,
every time a tree dies, we plant two new trees”.
A muffled rumor follows. She pauses a second,
then adds: “In order to protect the environment,
people avoid using their cars in this sector”.
This sentence strikes me. It sounds contradictory.
Two blocks away, across Vesturgata street,
There is an interior parking lot. I take my notebook,
Write it down in a new section entitled
“Small adventures in Gröndal’s house”.

At the same moment, a man bends over.
Looking through my window. Looking at me.
Impulsively, I take my phone, select the “camera” icon.
Facing the window, I take his picture. He raises up
immediately. Here I am, a woman looking at a tourist
looking at her. Shooting his image before he had time
To scrutinize every little component of my universe.

“Writing in this studio is a kind of experimental
performance”, I think for myself, taking away
the void between people and the photograph.
In Gröndal’s house, perspectives are reversed.
David Hockney would be happy here.

Chantal Ringuet, October 2019. 


2020 Residency Dedicated to Children's Literarature

In October 2020, we offer the residency for a children's fiction writer in association with Mýrin - the Reykjavík International Children's Literature Festival. A call for applications has now been opened. 


Reykjavík, a UNESCO City of Literature since 2011, offers a one month residency for a visiting writer from another UNESCO City of Literature. The 2020 offer is open to published children's fiction writers from, or affiliated with, any of the other 38 Cities of Literature, writing in any genre.


This residency will be a one month stay for one writer from October 1 – 31, 2020.


Writers from or with strong ties to any of the 38 other UNESCO Cities of Literature can apply. The applicant must have published at least one work of fiction for children or teenagers (poetry, prose, play or screenwriting). Writers of all ages, gender, nationalities and languages can apply as long as the affiliation with a UNESCO City of Literature is strong.

What is included?

Travel cost, free lodging in Gröndalshús (Gröndal‘s House) residence flat and a sum of 800 Euros. The flat in Gröndalshús is a fully furnished one bedroom flat with a full kitchen located in the Reykjavík city centre close to cultural venues and the main city attractions. The living/dining area can also be used as a work space. The flat has free wifi. The guest will be responsible for meals and other day to day needs. Medical coverage is not included and therefore the guest should have medical insurance/coverage of their own. The Reykjavík City of Literature staff will be of help in connecting the guest with the local literary community and other relevant parties related to literary work. Presentation of literary works will also be possible for the guest, be it by an open event, media presentation or other channels and if the guest should be able and willing to take part in Mýrin - the International Children's Literature Festival in Reykjavík. The offer is meant for the writer only.


Applicants must use this month in Reykjavik for literary work and have an interest in getting to know Reykjavík and Iceland and its culture and literature. Whereas the hosts do not make any restrictions on the nature or content of the work being written during the stay, they do ask that the author writes a short text (1-2 A4 pages; prose, reflection, poem etc.) about Reykjavík and/or the stay or the author‘s home city‘s ties to Reykjavik or Icelandic literature. The piece may be translated to Icelandic and used by the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature, on the programme‘s website, social media channels and/or in a publication dedicated to the residency in the future without further compensation. Proficiency in English is required.

About Reykjavík and Gröndal‘s House

Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland and its cultural centre. Inhabitants in the capital area are around 230.000. Icelandic is the language of the island but most people are also fluent in English. Reykjavík has been a UNESCO City of Literature since 2011 and has a vibrant literary community. The Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature office is run by the City of Reykjavík within its Department of Culture and Tourism. Gröndal‘s House is the former home of writer, illustrator and scholar Benedikt Gröndal (1826-1907). This small charming house in the heart of the old town was renovated by the City and opened as a culture house and residency in 2017. It houses the flat on the ground floor, an exhibition and event space on the main floor and an office space for local artists on the top floor. The house is run by the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature office.

See further here:

Application and deadline

Please send your application to before March 1st, 2020.

It should contain:

  • Name
  • Address and contact email
  • Nationality
  • Date of birth
  • Connection to a UNESCO City of Literature
  • CV of published works and relevant career
  • Brief description of the project you plan to work on in Reykjavík
  • You may send a sample of written work if available in Icelandic, English, Danish, Swedish or Norwegian although not required.

If you need further information, please write to us at the same address: