Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rungstedlund in Denmark: Famed writer Karen Blixen's home draws an international clientele

Rungstedlund, the estate where Karen Blixen lived most
all her life except the 17 years in Africa.  She was born
Karen Christence Dinesen and wrote as Isak Dinesen. 

'Out of Africa' author wrote 'Gothic Tales,' reflected on a life with lions and her lover after returning to her Danish homeland


Karen Blixen returned to Denmark after her
lover was killed in a plane crash in Africa.
WRITER KAREN Blixen might have stayed in Africa at her coffee plantation with her partner, writing about the lions she loved, had he not died in a plane crash.  After Denys Finch Hatton perished in his Gypsy Moth in 1931, the Danish born writer lost her spirit, and returned to her homeland to recharge and reflect.
The Blixen Museum's gardens provide
fresh flowers for the home.
Long fans of her writing, we decided to make the trip to Rungstedlund, the Karen Blixen Museum. On a warm but rainy Denmark day, we took the convenient fast train from our base in the coastal village of Vedbaek, two stops to Rungsted, where Blixen died in 1962.
BARONESS AND famous author Blixen was born Karen Christence Dinesen,at the family residence, Rungstedlund, on April 17 of 1885.
The property traces back to 1520, when it was owned by the Crown.
Blixen's love of birds inspired her nesting sanctuary with 200 bird houses.
Gorgeous beech trees -- some nearly 300
years old -- welcome visitors to stroll
to or from the Karen Blixen Museum.
The inn closed in 1803 and was owned by a wealthy farmer before Blixen's father bought it in 1879. Wilhelm Dinesen and Ingeborg Westenholz took up residency in 1881.  Dinesen was born in 1885 and became Karen Blixen after marrying Baron Bror Blixen, her Swedish second-cousin, in 1914.
The two were temperamentally unsuited, he was unfaithful and gave her syphilis.  They divorced in 1921 and she returned to Denmark for treatment.
Danish signs point the way to the museum and bird sanctuary.
A bust of Blixen is a centerpiece in the home,
which is open to tourists, part of the museum.
Karen Blixen's grave is beneath a lovely beech tree.
LEAVING THE station, we walked along lovely streets, directed by understated signs. We saw dozens of brightly painted bird houses -- with lots of customers flitting in and out.  These are among 200 nesting boxes attracting 40 different species of birds happily breeding where Blixen walked and wrote.
Her love of birds inspired her 1958 decision to make the estate into a bird sanctuary. Rungstedlund's 40 acres of gardens and groves are much loved by Danes and worldwide visitors.
We enjoyed the bird houses so much that we returned the same way, bidding adieu to Blixen on the estate's Ewalds Hill. She is buried there beneath a gigantic beech tree with a simple stone marker.
The grove boasts trees up to 300 years old, named after people with a personal link to the house, including Albert Einstein.
The 1985 movie, "Out of Africa," starred Meryl Streep
and Robert Redford, and was a whimsical reflection
on Blixen's life in Africa, where she learned Swahili.

THE SANCTUARY is supervised by the Danish Ornithological Society. We toured the house, which contains Blixen's art collection, furniture and a beautiful bust of her.  The oldest part of the home dates from 1680 when it was a combined inn and farm. Through the centuries, writers and artists visited. Poet Johannes Ewald Ewald lived there from 1773 to 1775, writing "The Delights of Rungsted, An Ode."
The Karen Blixen Museum was founded in 1991 by Blixen's descendants and the Danish government.
Hollywood made a movie about her life in Africa with her lover.  "Out of  Africa" starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and was a lyrical meditation on her 17 years at her Kenya coffee plantation where she communed with critters, earned the love of the people and learned to speak Swahili.

The Faroe Islands are up next -- as we arrive in Klaksvik for a hike,
fish and chips, some fine wine and a breathtaking boat ride.
UP NEXT: Faroe Islands? Where are they?  What language to they speak?  How does one get there?
 All that and more at the next whereiscookie. Stay tuned, and remember to explore, learn and live as we visit these obscure but thriving islands in Scandinavia.
Why has no one heard of these lovely islands?  Perhaps because, they are not easily accessible.  We're publishing whereiscookie on Wednesdays while we wind down our stay in the Northern Rockies.
We'll return to our "Wednesdays and weekends" traditions in three weeks. Explore, learn and live and remember, carpe diem. 


  1. Delightful. Made me want to be there. And I shall. Have her "Gothic Tales" at my bedside.

  2. did not know then story of Blisen's home. thanks! added to my bucket list

  3. I'm German and a huge fan of Blixen's (Dinesen's) wonderful writings. Isn't it interesting how other cultures and peoples mark and inspire us? Thank you for this wonderful piece. I plan to head north to visit Rungstedlund next summer

  4. Lifelong Lover of LiteratureOctober 12, 2015 at 1:55 PM

    Excellent, lively overview of a gifted visionary who lived by her beliefs and loved the natural world.

  5. Found this gem while reading the latest blog on Copenhagen. Oh how I would love to visit Karen Blixen's home as you two did. Maybe when the Covid cloud lifts.