Henrik Johan Ibsen (March 20, 1828 – May 23, 1906) also known as ‘The Father of Realism’ was a profound poetic dramatist, theatre director and playwright from Norway. He was born in a merchant family in Telemark County. He wrote his plays in the Danish language which were published by Gyldendal the Danish publisher. During most of his productive years he lived in Germany and Italy, though most of his plays are set in Norway. In theatre he was one of the founders of Modernism. In the European tradition, he is ranked as one of the finest distinguished playwrights. Many other novelists and playwrights like Miroslav Krieza, George Bernard Shaw, Eugene O’Niel, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Arthur Miller have been influenced by him. In three consecutive years, 1902, 1903 and 1904, Isben was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Brand (1865), Peer Gynt (1867), Emperor and Galilean (1873), Pillars of Society (1877), A Doll’s House (1879), Ghosts (1881), An Enemy of the People (1882), , The Wild Duck (1884), Hedda Gabler (1890), The Master Builder (1892), John Gabriel Borkman, Rosmersholm, The Lady from the Sea and When We Dead Awaken are some of Henrik Isben’s master pieces. After Shakespeare, he is known in the world as the most frequently performed dramatist. The most performed play in the world by the early 20th century was A Doll’ House.
Some of the most enduring modern plays have been written by Henrik Isben. This granddad of realist drama had a life that was anything, but easy. He had a conversational and straightforward writing style, concerned with everyday things in normal life. His main aim was to examine ideas of individuals and challenge them to think about the society they lived in.
When it was expected that European theatre would model strict morals of propriety and family life, many of Henrik Isben’s later dramas were termed as scandalous to many of his era. Realities lying behind many facades were examined in his work which revealed a lot that was disquieting to a many contemporaries. As far as issues of morality and life conditions are concerned, his work utilized free inquiry and a critical eye. Strong surreal elements are seen in the cinematic and poetic play, Peer Gynt, he created. Films and contemporary culture have been significantly influenced by Isben’s dramas.
In 1873, Henrik Isben was decorated Knight, in 1892 as Commander and in 1893 as Commander with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav. He was Knight, First Class of the Order of Vasa. He has also received the Grand Cross of the Swedish Order of the Polar Star and the Grand Cross of the Danish Order of the Dannebrog. The asteroid 5696 was named in 1995, in his memory.