Catherine of Siena
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About the Author
Sigrid Undset (1882-1949) was a Norwegian novelist. Born in Denmark, Undset moved with her family to Norway at the age of two. Raised in Oslo, Undset was on track to attend university before her father's death derailed the family's economic stability. At 16, Undset started working as a secretary for an engineering firm while writing and studying on the side. After a voluminous novel set in the Nordic Middle Ages failed to find a publisher, Undset made her literary debut at 25 with Fru Marta Oulie, a short realist novel about a middle-class Norwegian woman. Over the next decade, she published at a prodigious rate, earning a reputation as a rising star in Norwegian literature with such novels as Jenny (1911) and Vaaren (1914). This success allowed her to quit her job as a secretary in order to dedicate herself to her writing. Shaken by the First World War, however, Undset converted to Catholicism and began to shift away from realism toward spiritual and moral themes. Between 1920 and 1922, she published her magnum opus Kristin Lavransdatter, a trilogy set in Norway in the Middle Ages that secured her the 1928 Nobel Prize in Literature. A longtime critic of Adolph Hitler, Undset was forced to flee Norway following the Nazi invasion in 1940. She made her way via Sweden to the United States, where she lived for the remainder of the war. Undset returned to Norway in 1945, spending her final years in Lillehammer.