From the financial year 1938/39 onwards, Karen Blixen joined the ranks of those writers entered on the Danish Civil List, receiving an annual state grant. This government subsidy was a forerunner of the lifelong public grants in recognition of services to the arts, and the other lifelong benefits which a number of writers receive today on the recommendation of the National Fund for the Endowment of the Arts, established in 1956.
NOMINATED FOR THE NOBEL PRIZE
The Danish Society of Authors nominated Karen Blixen for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. It has always been assumed that she was nominated a number of times after that, but the Nobel archives from 1950 onwards are not yet open to the public, so we do not know for sure. But we do know that when Ernest Hemingway received the Nobel Prize in 1954, he said in an interview on October 18: “I would have been happy – happier – today if the prize had gone to that beautiful writer Isak Dinesen.” Hemingway’s words reverberated around the world, and Karen Blixen wrote a letter thanking him. Her letter, written in English on November 1 1954, is included in Karen Blixen i Danmark. Breve 1931-62 (Karen Blixen in Denmark. Letters 1931-62, not translated into English).
Karen Blixen received numerous Danish awards and was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
|1939||Tagea Brandts Rejselegat. A travel bursary set up in 1905 in memory of the pioneering feminist, Tagea Brandt. Awarded annually to women who have made a contribution in the fields of science, literature or art.|
|1949||Holberg-Medaillen. An award named after the great dramatist, essayist and historian Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754). Set up by the Danish Society of Authors in 1934. The silver medal is inscribed: “for mind and thought”. Awarded annually on the anniversary of Holberg’s birth to a prominent Danish individual active in the arts. The award ceremony, including Karen Blixen’s acceptance speech, was broadcast on Danish Radio on December 12 1949.|
|1950||Ingenio et arti (“ingenuity and art”). A gold medal presented for meritorious services, established by Christian VIII in 1841. Awarded to distinguished writers, artists and scientists.|
|1952||De gyldne Laurbær (The Golden Laurels). Awarded annually since 1949 by the Danish Society of Booksellers, following a vote by the members. The speech made by Vagn Riisager to Karen Blixen was published in book form in 1952, under the title Karen Blixen.|
|1955||H.C. Andersen Legatet (The Hans Christian Andersen Grant). Established in 1955 on the 150th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen’s birth. Awarded annually. The award ceremony, including Karen Blixen’s acceptance speech, was broadcast on Danish Radio on April 1 1955.|
|1957||Kritikerprisen (The Critics’ Prize). Awarded annually following voting by the members of The Critics’ Guild. Established in 1957. Karen Blixen was thus the first recipient of the prize, together with the poet Per Lange.|
|1957||Henri Nathansens Mindelegat (Henri Nathansen’s Bequest). Established in 1945. Awarded annually to Danish artists.|
|1957||Honorary membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.|
|1959||Henrik Pontoppidans Legat (Henrik Pontoppidan’s Grant). An annual grant for Danish writers, named after the Danish author Henrik Pontoppidan (1857-1943, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1917). Established in 1944.|
In 1985 the Danish Academy of Letters instituted the “Karen Blixen Medaljen”, an award in the form of a medal designed by the artist Hanne Varming. First awarded, in 1985, to the writers William Heinesen and Astrid Lindgren. After a gap of 12 years, the medal was awarded in 1997 to the Czech writer Václev Havel.