44 pages 1 hour read

Henrik Ibsen

Hedda Gabler

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1890

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Authorial Context: Henrik Ibsen

Content Warning: This section contains discussion of death by suicide. 

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) was a Norwegian playwright. Hedda Gabler is one of his most famous works, alongside A Doll’s House and Peer Gynt. In his early career, Ibsen wrote primarily in verse. He later switched to prose plays. Some of Ibsen’s plays, including Hedda Gabler, initially generated scandal. At the time, it was relatively uncommon to include characters like Hedda: a female protagonist who had premarital sex, pushed back against the social constraints of her life, and died by suicide. Though Hedda Gabler was initially controversial, it remains a focal point of Ibsen’s legacy. It is widely considered to be not just one of his best plays, but one of the most influential plays ever written. Ibsen wrote Hedda Gabler quite late in his career. He was in the theater on the night of the first performance, though he remained backstage.

Though Ibsen was born in Norway, he lived in other countries for much of his life. As a young man, he failed his university entrance exams and turned to writing as his new career. He worked at a Norwegian theater in the 1850s, but moved to Rome in 1864 after the theater closed down.