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Johanne Luise Heiberg

Johanne Luise Heiberg, née Pätges, 1812-90, the undisputed prima donna of the Romantic age.

Johanne Luise HeibergShe began as a child in the ballet school of the Royal Theatre in 1820, but finally moved into drama when Johan Ludvig Heiberg wrote the vaudeville Aprilsnarrene (The April Fools) for her in 1826. They married in 1831, and Johanne Luise thereby found herself at the centre of Copenhagen intellectual life.

Dramatists vied with each other to write parts for her: from the dreamily erotic to the passionate and demonic, but also with due respect to Romanticism's ideal of beauty. The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote a detailed description of her art.

After leaving the stage, she worked for some years as a producer, not least of a couple of plays by Henrik Ibsen. Mrs Heiberg left one of the greatest works of Danish memoir literature, Et Liv gjenoplivet i Erindringen (1891-92, A Life Re-Lived in Memory).

Her career is often compared with that of Hans Christian Andersen, and in 1981 the Swedish dramatist Per Olov Enquist brought the two together in Fra regnormenes liv (From the Life of the Earthworms).

Bent Holm, Gyldendal Leksikon

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