The poet Nonni

One of the best-known and most loved Icelandic writers in the first half of the last century was Jón Sveinsson – Nonni. He wrote 12 Nonni’s books, in German, the first Erlebnisse eines jungen Isländers von ihm selbst erzählt was published in 1913 and in an Icelandic translation as, Nonni : brot úr æskusögu Íslendings : eigin frásögn in 1922. The books are about the various adventures that Nonni and his brother Manni got into in Akureyri, and in the surrounding countryside in Eyjafjörður. But Jón Sveinsson was born in Hörgárdalur, 1857, and moved to Pálshús in Akureyri in 1865. On Nonni’s centenary in 1957, a museum was opened in the house, and the house is now called Nonnahús. The Nonni books have been translated into almost 40 languages, and published in millions of copies.

Jón Sveinsson was paid to study by a French nobleman, and went to Denmark and France in 1870, and only came home to Iceland twice for the rest of his life, but he died in an air raid on Cologne in Germany in 1944. Jón Sveinsson – Nonni was by far the best known Icelander abroad in the first half of the twentieth century.

Nonnahús is beautifully located in the old town in Akureyri, the dark house on the far left

The kitchen in Nonnahús

Sleeping area in Nonnahús

Nonni, far right on his way to Viðey in 1930. But the government of Iceland invited him to the Parliamentary Festival

Nonni in Japan in 1936

Photographs & text: Páll Stefánsson
20/02/2023 : RX!R II, A7C : FE 1.8/20mm G, 2.0/35mm Z