Alf Prøysen

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Alf Prøysen, 1964.

Alf Prøysen (23 July 1914 – 23 November 1970), was a writer and musician from Norway.[1] His Mrs. Pepperpot books established him as a children's author.[2] Prøysen was one of the most important Norwegian cultural personalities in the second half of the twentieth century, and he made significant contributions to literature, music, television and radio.

Early life

He was born at Rudshøgda in Ringsaker.

His childhood was typical[citation needed] for those of the social class of tenant farmers—the landless lower class of rural Norway. This is reflected in his songs and short stories, where he draws realistic, satirical and harsh pictures of class relations and everyday life in rural Norway.


Prøysen contributed to many artistic fields: children's radio, short stories, theater and music. His only novel Trost i taklampa ("thrush in the ceiling lamp") was a great[clarification needed] success both as a book and as a play, depicting the urbanization of 1950s Norway, and the effect this had on rural life.

In 1956 the first book (of a series) about Mrs. Pepperpot is published.


Prior to Prøysen's 90th anniversary in July 2004, Prøysen's biographer Ove Røsbak – who had published his biography in 1992, wrote an article in Dagbladet[3] Røsbak claimed that several of his sources has confirmed that Prøysen had discussed his bisexuality during the 1960s. This caused a large debate.[4] Dagbladet editor Knut Olav Åmås commented ten days later that the debate revealed mixed feelings towards gay/bisexuality.[5]

Three days later, Dagbladet had an interview with gay activist Karen-Christine Friele.[6] Friele confirmed that Prøysen had told her about his love of men, and his divided life.[7]

In the aftermath, Prøysen's songs have been re-read and re-interpreted, in search of gay themes.[4][8][9] "Vise om løgna" [The song about the lie] is a song about being consumed by secrets, while "Mannen på holdeplassen" [The man at the tram stop] could be read as a song about love at first sight between men.


Alf Prøysen died of cancer on 23 November 1970, aged 56. He was buried at Vår Frelsers gravlund, at Norway's main honorary burial ground—Æreslunden.[10]

After death

The encyclopedia Store Norske Leksikon says that "Prøysen's great popularity, shadowed (in his lifetime) for his deeper literary qualities". Furthermore "Still in 1972 Olav H. Hauge wrote in his diary that Prøysen was a rich, fat celebrity and favorite of the upper- and ruling class ("storfolket"), but also Hauge eventually changed his perception.[10]


As the youngest of four children, Prøysen was very close to his mother Julie. He married Else Storhaug in 1948 and they had two children, a daughter, Elin Julie and a son, Alf Ketil.


  • Mrs. Pepperpot, a tiny lady who never knows when she is going to shrink to the size of a teaspoon.
  • Musevisa ["The mouse song"]


  1. Alf Proysen at Random House[dead link]
  2. "Alf Proysen". Random House Children's Publishers. Random House. Retrieved 11 August 2014. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ove Røsbak. "En annerledes Prøysen" [A different view of Prøysen]; Dagbladet 10. juli 2004
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ove Røsbak. "Han som var slem mot Prøysen : om Prøysen-debatten sommeren 2004" [He who mistreated Prøysen, the Prøysen debate during the summer 2004]. In Samtiden; nr 2, 2007
  5. Knut Olav Åmås. "Med Prøysen som speil " [Prøysen as a mirror]; Dagbladet 20 July 2004
  6. Knut Olav Åmås. "I 1967 møttes Alf Prøysen, Elisabeth Granneman og Karen-Christine Friele til en samtale i Oslo." [In 1967, Prøysen, Granneman and Friele met in Oslo]; Dagbladet 23 July 2004
  7. Knut Imerslund. "Sannheten – tåler vi den? Alf Prøysen og annerledesheten" [Can we take the truth, Prøysen and differentness] In Rau skulle kjolen vara : artikler om Alf Prøysen og hans forfatterskap. Oplandske bokforlag, 2005. ISBN 82-7518-121-6
  8. Olav Andre Manum. "-det finns så mange lengsler å spekulere i : Alf Prøysen i en homolitterær tradisjon". In Bokvennen; nr 3, 2005
  9. associate professor Britt Andersen of NTNU; interviewed in Klassekampen, 17. april 2008
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Alf Prøysen". Store Norske Leksikon. Retrieved 25 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
Hans Peter L'Orange
Recipient of the Norsk kulturråds ærespris
Succeeded by
Alf Rolfsen