Torfhildur Þorsteinsdóttir

Torfhildur Þorsteinsdóttir Hólm

Torfhildur Þorsteinsdóttir, also known as Torfhildur Hólm (2 February 1845 – 14 November 1918) was an Icelandic author who lived for many years in Canada. She was perhaps the first Icelander to make a living as an author,[1] and is frequently cited as the first Icelandic woman novelist.[2]


Torfhildur was born at Kálfafellsstaður (is) in Skaftafellssýsla (now in Austur-Skaftafellssýsla), where her father, Þorsteinn Einarson, was a clergyman. She went to Reykjavík at age 17 and studied there and in Copenhagen and worked as a private teacher[3] before marrying Jakob Hólm when she was 29. He died a year later and in 1876 she emigrated to Canada, where she lived in New Iceland and Winnipeg for 13 years.[4] After working as a teacher for a number of years, she returned to Iceland in 1889 and two years later was granted a writer's pension by the Althing, the first woman to receive such artistic support; there was disagreement about the appropriateness of the award and it was reduced and ultimately made part of her widow's pension.[3] She died in Reykjavík.