Painted portrait of Knud Lyne Rahbek and silhouette of his wife Kamma.
Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek
Knud Lyne Rahbek (1760-1830) was an author, an editor of several periodicals, a professor of literature and a theatre manager. Not many people read his writings today, but he was important and instrumental in creating a social network for authors and intellectuals during his lifetime. Inspired by French and English news culture, he published the Danish periodicals "Minerva", and "The Danish Spectator". English coffee houses were buzzing with intellectual life at the end of the 1700s, and so were the middle-class clubs in Copenhagen. Rahbek was an enthusiastic member of a number of clubs. His ideals relating to society, politics, education, theatre and literature were strongly influenced by the Danish Enlightenment of the 1700s.
In 1798 he married Karen Margrethe Heger, nicknamed Kamma (1775-1829). She was the daughter of the brewer and magistrate, Hans Heger. Kamma was both creatively and intellectually gifted. She shared her spouse's great interest in literature, and together they created a literary hub for contemporary authors, artists and scientists in their home. She never became a professional writer, but she corresponded with family members and close friends such as the poet Adam Oehlenschläger, the theologian J.P. Mynster and librarian Christian Molbech. Kamma Rehbek drew, painted and created boxes out of cardboard and paper throughout her life: boxes which today are regarded as miniature works of art.
Read more about the history of Bakkehuset.
Portrait of the poet Adam Oehlenschläger
Kamma and Knud Rahbek bought the house in 1802, and very quickly created a literary environment there. In the beginning, Bakkehuset’s inner circle consisted of the couple themselves, as well as the poet Adam Oehlenschläger and Kamma’s siblings Christiane, Carl and Steffen Heger and Steffen Heger’s wife Eline. This literary circle then expanded as famous writers from the Danish Golden Age such as Hans Christian Andersen, B.S. Ingemann, Johan Ludvig Heiberg and many others began visiting the house.
Adam Oehlenschläger (1779-1850) was both a writer and playwright, and he is regarded as the first great romantic poet of Danish literature. He wrote the Danish national anthem, “I know a lovely land” (“Der er et yndigt land” in Danish), in 1819. Oehlenschläger grew up in Frederiksberg Palace, close to Bakkehuset, because his father had an administrative, executive position at the palace. In his youth Oehlenschläger studied law and became friends with the brothers Anders Sandøe and Hans Christian Ørsted, who also came to belong to the Danish elite in the Golden Age. Oehlenschläger's interests leaned mostly in the direction of literature and after meeting with the natural philosopher Henrich Steffens, he published his debut work, Poems 1803. Poems 1803, and the comedy, Aladdin from 1805, are perceived today as Oehlenschläger's major works, but he also wrote many Romantic tragedies inspired by old Nordic tales and folk songs which were performed at the Royal Danish Theatre.
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is the most famous figure of the Danish Golden Age. He is perceived today as the father of the modern fairy tale. Andersen belonged to the second generation of romantics, and he frequented Bakkehuset in the 1820s, that is to say in the final years of the Rahbeks. Andersen came from a poor background in Odense on Funen, but he left his childhood home in 1819 to seek his fortune in Copenhagen. He wanted to be an actor and a ballet dancer, but when he failed to realize these ambitions he threw himself instead into writing. He debuted as a poet in 1827 in a literary journal called, "Copenhagen's Flying Post" ("Københavns Flyvende Post" in Danish), which was published by the Danish author Johan Ludvig Heiberg. Andersen, however, wrote his first play for the Royal Danish Theatre in 1821, but this was not put on. Andersen later wrote both plays, novels, poems and songs, but it is primarily his fairy tales for which he is famous around the world. Some of his most famous fairy tales includes: "The Emperor’s New Clothes"; "The Little Mermaid"; "The Nightingale"; "The Snow Queen"; “The Ugly Duckling” to name but a few. His stories have been the inspiration for ballets, plays, films and cartoons.
Read more about Danish literature from the Golden Age.