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Karen Blixen: Midsummer Dreams

The world-famous Danish novelist Karen Blixen had a profound love for William Shakespeare's work. Among her numerous novels and short-stories for which she gained her fame, is a lesser known collection of poems and illustrations connected to one of the Bard's beloved plays.

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Karen Blixen at her desk. Copyright: The Karen Blixen Museum.

Karen Blixen is one of the great writers in the Danish literary canon. Outside of Denmark she is most famous for her memoir Out of Africa, describing her 17 years living on a coffee plantation in Kenya, and Babette's Feast – both of which have been made into Academy Award-winning motion pictures.

Blixen read Shakespeare's works a young woman and made poems and drawings filled with nature and youthful longing. Her poems and drawings inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream is right now on display in the Karen Blixen Museum in Rungstedlund where Blixen was born in 1885 and passed away in 1962.

The exhibition – Midsummer Dreams – encapsulates Blixens love for Shakespeare's work and imagination through the elegant drawings and delicate poetry she was inspired to produce by the dreams and young love Shakespeare conjures in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Blixen's love for Shakespeare stayed with her all through her life - in an interview with LIFE Magazine from 1959 she is quoted for saying "I couldn't have lived without Shakespeare." Evidently, she was aware of the great importance Shakespeare had to her own life and art, and this exhibition is thus very suitable for the worldwide celebration of Shakespeare on this the 400th anniversary of his death.

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One of Blixen's drawings - Titania, Queen of the Fairies, gently caressing the ass-headed weaver Nick Bottom while the mischievous Puck watches them. The text an excerpt from one of Blixens poems translated by Russell Dees.
Copyright: The Karen Blixen Museum