From Lillehammer UNESCO City of Literature

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson


„De gode gjerninger redder verden“


„Good deeds save the world“


Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832 – 1910)


The Norwegian author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832 - 1910) became the great cultural personality of the literary, cultural and political life of the time. No issue was too small or too large. He stood up for the less fortunate and for the smaller nations’ right to freedom and independence. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson wrote stories, novels, historical plays and contemporary drama and approximately 400 poems that have inspired many musicians. He wrote some 10,000 to 20,000 letters and more than 3,500 speeches and articles. 

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson is best known for Norway's national anthem “Ja, vi elsker” and The Peasant Tales: “Synnøve Solbakken” and "A happy boy". The quote above is the title of a poem Bjørnson had not finished writing when he passed away, but the words have nevertheless become famous after his days. 

In 1903 Bjørnson was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature for all his works.

Read the World

Read the World is an exhibition of texts from nineteen UNESCO Cities of Literature around the world. It opens at the Reykjavík City Hall on October 10, 2018 and lasts until October 31st.  The exhibition honours Iceland‘s centenary as a sovereign nation and the texts all ponder on the topics of freedom – whether of thought, mind or speach –, independence or rebellion.

The Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature hopes that the exhibition encourages people to think about these important issues and their meaning for us as individuals and nations. The event also highlights the importance of intercultural dialogue and the invaluable contribution of foreign artists and cultural currents for Icelandic culture, sovereignty and developement, past and present.

The UNESCO Cities of Literature are part of the wider UNESCO Creative Cities Network