Vilborg Davíðsdóttir, writer and ethnologist


Vilborg Davíðsdóttir

Vilborg Davíðsdóttir (b. 1965) is an ethnologist and a journalist by education. Her first book, Við Urðarbrunn (By Urd’s Well) came out in 1993, and its sequel, Nornadómur (Norns’Judgement) was published the following year. These tell the story of a young slave woman in 9th century Iceland, the daughter of a Norwegian chieftain settler and his Irish slave, and her pursuit for freedom. The story is set in Iceland, Scandinavia and the Scottish Isles. Both were critically acclaimed and later republished in a single volume titled Korku saga (Korkas Saga).1839-4001-175x284

Vilborg’s third book, Eldfórnin (Sacrifice by Fire, 1997) is a historical novel revolving around events at the nunnery of Kirkjubær in the 14th century. Her fourth novel, Galdur (2000) (published in English as On the Cold Coasts by AmazonCrossing in 2012) is also based on historical events, this time in the 15th century, in the North of Iceland, when Englishmen dominated where highly influental in Iceland.

Sources describing the lives of the Inuit and the Norse inhabiting Greenland in the mid-15th century provide the background for Vilborg’s fifth novel, Hrafninn (The Raven, 2005). The story touches on the mysterious disappearance of the settlements started in Greenland by Icelandic settlers around the year 1000. Hrafninn was nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize.

Audur-175x261Auður (2009) and its sequel Vígroði (Crimson Skies 2012) tell the story of the early years of the only woman to lead her own settlement expedition to Iceland in the Viking Age, Audur the Deep-Minded. The book received rave reviews and was also nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize. The books are set in the British Isles.

Vilborg’s latest book, Ástin, drekinn og dauðinn (On Love, Dragons and Dying) is a memoir, published in 2015. Astindrekinogdaudin-175x204Here she tells the story of her husband’s journey with terminal brain cancer, “the Dragonˮ, and her first year as a widow following his death in 2013. The book has been highly acclaimed, especially for dealing with the death of a loved one and grief in a moving yet realistic way, as well as encouraging the reader to live mindfully, whatever happens, and accept death as a natural part of life.

Panel: Icelandic Literature as an Inspiration