18 Best Danish Authors To Explore Today!

Discover some of the best Danish authors and writers of all time and their most popular works you should consider reading this year. 

Denmark is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy located in Scandinavia with a population of approximately 5.8 million people. It’s bordered by the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and Germany, and there are two autonomous provinces – the Faroe Islands and Greenland. 

This area is rich in culture, history, and beautiful landmarks, giving Danish authors a perfect backdrop for their works of literature. Danish writers have been creating beautiful works of literature for centuries.

1. Hans Christian Andersen – b. 1805 — d. 1875

Best danish authors
Hans Christian Andersen via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: An old black and white photograph aged to brown and white tones. Hans is sitting on a chair and looking to the left, so we see his side profile. He has mid-length curly hair and is wearing a formal suit with large buttons, a velvet collar, and a bowtie.

Hans Christian Andersen is one of the most famous fairy tale authors and was born in Odense, Denmark, on April 2, 1805. He was an only child; his father died when he was 11, and his mother then worked as a washerwoman to support the family. 

Andersen was a very imaginative child and loved to make up stories. Although he wrote many different types of literature, including novels, plays, and poetry, he is most well-known for his collection of fairy tales, including The Princess and the Pea, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and The Little Match Girl.

When Andersen was just 67, he accidentally fell out of his bed and became injured. While he recovered, he began to show indications of liver cancer. He would later die on August 4, 1875, at 70.

The Princess and the Pea and Other Favorite Tales (With Original Illustrations)
  • Andersen, Hans Christian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 76 Pages - 04/01/2014 (Publication Date) - Hythloday Press (Publisher)

2. Peter Høeg – b. 1957

Peter Høeg – b. 1957
Peter Høeg via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A photograph of Peter Høeg sitting on a chair and holding a microphone. He has short blonde hair and is wearing a bright blue tank top.

Peter Høeg is a Danish fiction author from Copenhagen, best known for his novel Miss Smilla’s Sense of Snow. Before he became a writer, Høeg was a sort of Jack-of-all-trades, dabbling in various hobbies and professions, including acting, ballet dancing, and sailing. He eventually returned in 1984 to graduate with a Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Copenhagen. 

Peter has written several other novels, including The Quiet Girl, The Woman and the Ape, and Tales of the Night, and has won numerous literary awards, including the Danish Critics Prize for Literature and The Golden Laurel, a Danish booksellers award.

Smilla's Sense of Snow
  • 1993 EDITION
  • Hardcover Book

3. Karen Blixen – b. 1885 — d. 1962

Karen Blixen – b. 1885 — d. 1962
Karen Blixen via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A black and white photograph of Karen Blixen. She is in the backseat of a car and is wearing pearl earrings, a black fur coat, and a beret with a brooch pinned in it. She is smiling, and we can see a glimpse of a pearl necklace underneath her coat.

Karen Blixen, formally known as Baroness Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke, was born in Rungstedlund, a town just north of Copenhagen. She was raised by her father, Wilhelm Dinesen until he died when she was ten. Wilhelm, who was from a wealthy Jutland property-owning family, was also an accomplished writer, and his memoir Letters from the Hunt eventually became considered a Danish literary classic. 

Blixen’s writing is lyrical, and her stories are typically set in exotic locales. Her book, Out of Africa, is a beautiful and tragic love story written under the pen name Isak Dinesen about her life in Kenya and was later made into a movie starring Meryl Streep. She has won multiple awards for her writing, including the coveted Tagea Brandt Rejseleg. 

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4. Søren Kierkegaard – b. 1813 — d. 1855

Søren Kierkegaard – b. 1813 — d. 1855
Søren Kierkegaard via wikipedia, public domain

Søren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher and theologian who many people consider one of the first existentialist philosophers in history. He wrote extensively on topics relating to ethics, religion, and morality. Kierkegaard was highly critical of the Christian church at the time and felt that it was far too concerned with earthly matters and not focused enough on spiritual matters. 

He began writing his first works in 1847 and later published Edifying Discourses in Diverse Spirit, a collection of works that sought to challenge popular ideologies at the time. 

His most famous work, Either/Or, was published in 1849, and in the last few years before his death, he spent the majority of his time writing newspaper articles that attacked the politicking leaders of the Lutheran State Church. Kierkegaard died in the hospital a month after suffering a collapse, and many scholars believe his symptoms pointed to Pott disease, a subtype of tuberculosis. 

Either/Or, Part I (Kierkegaard's Writings, 3)
  • Kierkegaard, Søren (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 728 Pages - 04/01/1987 (Publication Date) - Princeton University Press (Publisher)

5. Jussi Adler-Olsen – b. 1950

Jussi Adler-Olsen – b. 1950
Jussi Adler-Olsen via wikipedia, public domain

Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Danish author of crime fiction whose books have sold over 20 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Although he first began his career as a nonfiction writer in 1984, he eventually transitioned to fiction in 1997. 

Adler-Olsen has won dozens of awards for his work, including but not limited to the Harald Mogensen Prize and Glass Key Award in 2010, the De Gyldne Laurbær in 2011, The Sealed Room Award and The Barry Award in 2012, the Prix Plume du Thriller International in 2013, the European Crime Fiction Star Award in 2014/2015, the BookStar Award in 2017, the Babelio Award in 2020, and the Rheinbacher Glasdolch in 2022.

He is most well-known for his Department Q series, which follows the story of a department within the Danish police force responsible for solving cold cases. The series has been adapted into a successful Nordic noir film franchise in Denmark, and Adler-Olsen has served as a film screenwriter.

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6. Jens Peter Jacobsen – b. 1847 — d. 1885

Jens Peter Jacobsen – b. 1847 — d. 1885
Jens Peter Jacobsen via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A black and white photographic portrait of Jens Peter Jacobsen. He is wearing a suit jacket, shirt, and a pair of wire-framed eyeglasses. He has slicked-back hair and a long twisted mustache.

Jens Peter Jacobsen was a short story author, poet, and novelist, often thought of as one of the greatest Danish writers of the 19th century. He was responsible for starting the naturalist movement within Danish literature and was also a leading figure in the Modern Breakthrough when Scandinavian writings eventually replaced romanticism.

Jacobsen’s work is characterized by realism and wistful, often lyrical prose. He explored significant themes in his collection, including sorrow, religion, hope, and immortality. Jacobsen succumbed to tuberculosis at just 38 years old. 

Mogens and Other Stories
  • Jacobsen, Jens Peter (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 66 Pages - 12/24/2012 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

7. Tove Ditlevsen – b. 1847 — d. 1885


Image description: A black and white photographic portrait of Tove Ditlevsen. She is looking at the camera with a neutral expression over her left shoulder. She has short, curled hair and wears a jacket with a collar.

Tove Ditlevsen is a Danish author and poet who fell in love with writing when she penned her first poem at seven. Born in Copenhagen, Tove published her first volume of poetry when she was 20 and continued to write throughout her life, even after she became a successful novelist. In her later years, she suffered from depression and alcoholism, which may have been partly due to her tumultuous personal life. 

Tove’s most beloved work is The Copenhagen Trilogy, a series of autobiographical novels that detail her childhood and coming-of-age in Copenhagen’s working-class district. Tove Ditlevsen’s work is characterized by a deep understanding of human suffering and depth of emotion, likely due to her struggles with mental illness. Like many of the best American authors,  he died by suicide at 58. 


8. Inger Christensen – b. 1847 — d. 1885

Inger Christensen – b. 1847 — d. 1885
Inger Christensen via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A photograph of Inger Christensen. She is standing at a podium, speaking into a long microphone. She has short, straight, blonde hair and is wearing a black blouse, a green bead necklace, and a gray tweed jacket.

Inger Christensen is considered one of the most important Danish poets of the postwar era. Experimental techniques and a focus on language and perception characterize her work. Christensen was also a translator, and her translations of poetry and prose have been widely praised. She was born in 1932 in Vejle, a small town in eastern Jutland, to a tailor and a cook, and grew up in a family of modest means. 

Arguably, her most notable work is 1981’s Alfabet, wherein Christensen used the Fibonacci mathematical sequence and the alphabet to create a unique system to organize her poems. During her life, she won many awards, including the Grand Prix des Biennales Internationales de Poésie, the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize, and the German Siegfried Unseld Preis. 

  • Christensen, Inger (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 80 Pages - 01/01/1996 (Publication Date) - Bloodaxe Books Ltd (Publisher)

9. Carsten Jensen – b. 1952

Carsten Jensen – b. 1952
Carsten Jensen via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A photograph of Carsten Jensen. He is wearing a headset microphone, and looking to the right; we see his side profile. He is wearing a black turtleneck with a dark brown blazer. He has short black hair and stubble.

Carsten Jensen is a Danish political writer and journalist born in Marstal in 1952 and first gained notoriety when he began writing for Politiken, a daily publication in Copenhagen. His work primarily focuses on themes of world knowledge, history, and the war in Afghanistan. Jensen has won multiple awards for his work, including the Søren Gyldendal Prize, The Golden Laurel, and the Olof Palme Prize. 

His book, The First Stone, tells the story of a team of Danish soldiers in Afghanistan who have agreed to serve in the war. The book has been translated into several languages, including German, Swedish, and Norwegian.  

The First Stone
  • Jensen, Carsten (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 587 Pages - 09/01/2019 (Publication Date) - Amazon Crossing (Publisher)

10. Martin Andersen Nexø – b. 1847 — d. 1885

Martin Andersen Nexø – b. 1847 — d. 1885
Martin Andersen Nexø via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A black and white photo of Martin Andersen Nexø. He has short, white, curly hair and is wearing a suit jacket with a shirt and bowtie.

Martin Andersen Nexø was a Danish author and social reformer. He was born in Copenhagen to an impoverished family, one of 11 children and the fourth in succession. He spent his early life traveling Europe, on which he based his novel Days In the Sun. Nexø’s later works would reflect his political leanings after participating in the Social Democratic movement and subsequently joining the Communist Party of Denmark in support of the Soviet Union. 

Following the Second World War, he was made an honorary citizen of East Germany. He spent his remaining years cultivating his reputation as one of Europe’s most prolific social writers. He is best known for his novel Pelle the Conqueror, which was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1988 for Best Foreign Language Film. Just five years before his death in 1954, Nexø was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Greifswald.

Days In The Sun
  • Nexo, Martin Andersen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 318 Pages - 03/01/2018 (Publication Date) - Palala Press (Publisher)

11. Jakob Ejersbo – b. 1968 — d. 2008

Image description: A drawing of a book standing up and it’s held open by a tiny cartoon girl. She is peering inside the open book, and a bright light shines out from the pages of the book.

Jakob Ejersbo was a neorealistic writer and journalist born in Rødovre, Denmark in 1968. Little is known about his early life; most of his writing was published posthumously following a short 10-month battle with esophageal cancer. 

Before his death, Ejersbo published Nordkraft, a critically acclaimed novel about a small group of entangled friends struggling with drug use and tumultuous relationships. The book sold more than 100,000 copies, which was considered unusually high for the Danish literature market at the time. 

Ejersbo died in Aalborg in 2008 at just 40 years old, his lost talent rocking the Danish writing and publishing community. Although he lived alone at the time of his passing and was not married nor had children, the editor of Gyldendal, a major Danish publishing house, spoke at Ejersbo’s funeral, saying, “To see so much originality, so much talent go to waste and never get the chance to unfold. It is unbearable.”

  • Hardcover Book
  • Jakob Ejersbo (Author)
  • German (Publication Language)
  • 02/29/2004 (Publication Date) - Dumont Literatur U. Kunst (Publisher)

12. Georg Brandes – b. 1842 — d. 1927 

Georg Brandes – b. 1842 — d. 1927 
Georg Brandes via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: An oil painting of Gerog Brandes. He is sitting in a chair at a wooden desk covered in books and paper. A small lamp sits on the desk to light the room. He is wearing a black tuxedo and has short, white, swooping hair.

Georg Brandes was a Danish scholar and literary critic whose writings significantly influenced Danish and Scandinavian culture in the 19th century. His middle-class Jewish family was non-observant, and his early childhood was a normal experience for the oldest of three boys. In 1859, Brandes began studying law at the University of Copenhagen, but he found the law to be uninteresting and soon switched to studying philosophy and literature. 

He left school in 1864 and traveled Europe, contributing to many important discussions at the time, including but not limited to The French Aesthetics of the Present Day and a translation of John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women. 

Brandes helped to launch the Modern Breakthrough movement, and he is seen as having introduced the principles of naturalism and realism to Danish literature. Brandes was an early champion of the works of Søren Kierkegaard, Benjamin Disraeli, Ludvig Holberg, and Esaias Tegnér, among other prolific writers of the era. 

Like many Scandinavian and Argentine authors of the time, he was a prominent atheist. Many of his ideas have been influential in the Christ myth theory and arguments against Jesus’ historicity. 

Recollections of My Childhood and Youth
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Brandes, Georg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 489 Pages - 08/01/2022 (Publication Date) - DigiCat (Publisher)

13. Jens Christian Grøndahl – b. 1959

Jens Christian Grøndahl
Jens Christian Grøndahl via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A photograph of Jens Christian Grøndahl. He is wearing a dark brown suit jacket and a light blue shirt. He has short, brown hair and is wearing wire-framed eyeglasses.

Jens Christian Grøndahl is a famous Danish writer, essayist, playwright, and novelist. He was born in 1959 in Copenhagen and studied philosophy for a short time before attending the national Danish film school to become a director. He published his first book in 1985 when he was 26 years old and subsequently published 18 more novels, children’s books, and seven volumes of written essays.

His most notable work is An Altered Light, which tells the story of a successful female lawyer in Copenhagen who must rediscover herself after her husband announces his desire to get a divorce. He has written several other works, including Often I Am Happy, Silence In October, and Lucca, for which he won The Golden Laurel, a coveted Danish booksellers award, in 1998. 

Fire dage i marts (Danish Edition)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Grøndahl, Jens Christian (Author)
  • Danish (Publication Language)
  • 06/20/2014 (Publication Date) - Lindhardt og Ringhof (Publisher)

14. Naja Marie Aidt – b. 1959

Naja Marie Aidt – b. 1959
Naja Marie Aidt via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A photograph of Naja Marie Aidt speaking into a microphone while standing at a podium. She has mid-length blonde hair and is wearing a black blouse.

Naja Marie Aidt is a popular Danish poet and author who was born and raised in Greenland until moving to Copenhagen later in her childhood. Her first collection of poems, titled While I’m Still Young, was published in 1991, and she nearly immediately became a full-time writer in 1993. Her work has won numerous awards, including the Danish Critic’s Prize for Literature and the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, and has been translated into nine languages. 

Aidt’s work often deals with dark and complex topics, such as violence, death, and loss. However, she also writes about love, hope, and resilience. Her work has been praised for its beautiful and lyrical language and honest and emotionally charged portrayal of the human experience.

When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back
  • Aidt, Naja Marie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 01/09/2020 (Publication Date) - Quercus (Publisher)

15. Morten Nielsen – b. 1922 — d. 1944

Image description: A photograph of a stack of books on a red table. The book on top of the stack is open, and the middle pages are folded into a heart shape.

Morten Nielsen was a young Danish poet tragically killed at 22 after being shot accidentally during a weapons trade during World War II and the Danish resistance to German occupation. During his lifetime, he only published one short collection of poems called Warriors Without Weapons in 1943, just one year before his death. 

Most of Nielsen’s work was published ten years posthumously, and his most famous poetry, titled Moment, is in the Danish Cultural Canon. His poems soon became a hallmark of a younger generation’s quest for freedom from oppression, and his prose is still cherished today for its raw and unapologetic look at issues faced by the young people of his time.

Morten Nielsen. Mennesket og digteren (Danish Edition)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Brovst, Bjarne Nielsen (Author)
  • Danish (Publication Language)
  • 03/30/2017 (Publication Date) - Lindhardt og Ringhof (Publisher)

16. Henrik Pontoppidan – b. 1857 — d. 1943

Henrik Pontoppidan – b. 1857 — d. 1943
Henrik Pontoppidan via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A black and white photograph of Jenrik Pontoppidan. He is looking at the camera and has a neutral expression. He wears a black suit jacket with a white shirt and gray tie. He has short, white, curly hair and a mid-length gray beard.

Henrik Pontoppidan was born in Fredericia, Denmark, in 1857 and is considered one of the great Danish novelists of the 19th century. Pontoppidan’s writing is known for its realism and critical view of social conditions and religion. Although he was the youngest member of the Modern Breakthrough movement, he was arguably the most impactful.

Pontoppidan was born to a wealthy family of Episcopal clergy, but he chose to pursue a career in writing instead of following in his father’s footsteps. Pontoppidan’s novels and short stories focus on the lives of ordinary people in Denmark, describing in breathtaking language the struggles of the proletarians and peasants of the time. He is considered one of the country’s most important realist writers and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1917.

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17. Josefine Klougart – b. 1985

Josefine Klougart – b. 1985
Josefine Klougart via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A book cover with a turquoise background and black tree branches intertwined on the page. In a white cursive font, the title reads “One of Us Is Sleeping” in the center of the cover. The author’s name, “Josefine Lougart,” is printed in a cursive font in black at the bottom of the cover.

Josefine Klougart is a Danish writer and activist who is most well-known for her third novel, One Of Us Is Sleeping, a story about a young woman who faces not only the loss of her mother, who is dying of terminal cancer but also heartbreak in many other forms. Klougart’s novels often explore the darker aspects of human nature, and One Of Us Is Sleeping is no exception. The novel is moving and, at times, shows a disturbing exploration of grief, love, and loss.

She taught at the University of Bern in Switzerland as a guest professor in 2017 and co-wrote a book with Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson titled Your Glacial Expectations. Klougart’s works have been translated into more than 13 languages, and in 2011, she was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize for her book Rise and Fall. She also received the Danish Royal Prize for Culture and resided in Copenhagen. 

One of Us Is Sleeping (Danish Women Writers Series)
  • Klougart, Josefine (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 260 Pages - 07/12/2016 (Publication Date) - Open Letter (Publisher)

18. Knud Sørensen – b. 1928 — d. 2022

Knud Sørensen – b. 1928 — d. 2022
Knud Sørensen via wikipedia, public domain

Image description: A photograph of Knud Sørensen giving a talk to an audience. He is standing on a stage and speaking to a microphone. He is an older man with patches of white hair on the side of his head. He wears an orange polo-neck shirt, a brown blazer, and light brown trousers.

Knud Sørensen was a popular Danish novelist and poet born in Hjørring in 1928. In 1961, at 33, Sørensen published his first poem called Eksplosion. Since then, he has written numerous essays, novels, poetry, and a radio play. In 1997, his critically-acclaimed novel En tid won Weekendavisen’s literature award and the Danish Critic’s Prize For Literature. 

Sørensen was awarded a lifetime writing grant by the Danish Arts Agency and many other scholarships and grants for his work’s meaningful impact on Danish literature. He died in September 2022 at the age of 94. 

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