So, the big news in my life this week is that yesterday I booked a holiday to Copenhagen, and since I’m massively excited about it I thought I’d write a Denmark-themed blog post. Especially useful as after booking I realised that it’s a country I know very little about – other than it’s cold, they make bacon, and it’s near Sweden. It’s been a while since I’ve written a ‘top ten’, so here are my Top Ten Danes – enjoy 🙂
1. Hans Christian Anderson: writer of fairytales such as The Ugly Duckling and The LIttle Mermaid. If you don’t know who he is, I’m not sure you had a childhood.
2. Jørn Utzon (1918–2008): architect. This is the guy that designed the Sydney Opera House, one of the most recognisable buildings on the planet. And it’s a long way from Denmark.
3. Hamlet: Ok, he might be fictional, but he’s still one of the most famous Danes in the world. Telling the story of a Danish Prince struggling with his own sanity and the need to revenge his father’s death, this is Shakespeare’s longest play, and most-performed.
4. Niels Bohr: A physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922. His work in theoretical physics and quantum theory shed new light on atomic structure, and whilst some of his ideas have been overtaken, the principles behind them are still valid. During the Second World War he helped refugees in Denmark before fleeing to Britain and later becoming involved in the Manhattan Project. Later he called for international co-operation on nuclear power and helped set up CERN. On the whole, a pretty impressive bloke.
5. Ole Kirk Christiansen: All you need to know about this man is that he is responsible for the development and mass production of LEGO. ‘Nuff said.
6. Queen Margrethe II: She might be the current Queen of Denmark, but that hasn’t stopped her having multiple other careers. She’s fluent in 5 languages and has helped translate books, including Lord of the Rings. Her links with Tolkien don’t stop there, as she also provided illustrations for the Danish version of the book – she is a talented artist and holds regular exhibitions of her work. Not to mention that she designs clothing and has worked as a costume designer for ballet and film. As well as, y’know, being Queen and having to open hospitals and all.
7. Viggo Mortensen: Any man who plays Aragorn is alright in my book.
8. Poul Le Cour: Back in the 1890s, he developed wind turbines that could generate electricity. La Cour was the first to discover that fast rotating wind turbines with fewer rotor blades were the most efficient in generating electricity and in 1904 he founded the Society of Wind Electricians. Denmark now has the largest wind turbine in the world.
9. Bjorn Lomberg: Environmentalist, writer. Sometimes a controversial figure, Lomborg has campaigned against measures to cut carbon emissions in the short-term, and argued instead for spending money on research and development for longer-term environmental solutions. In 2008 he was named “one of the 50 people who could save the planet” by the UK Guardian, and in November 2001, Lomborg was selected “Global Leader for Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum. Although there are those that disagree with his views as a “sceptical environmentalist”, nobody can deny that he has opened up the debate on climate change a great deal.
10. Nielsen: I couldn’t write a top ten without including a musician… Also a skilled conductor and violinist, Nielsen’s said to be Denmark’s greatest composer. He wrote 6 symphonies, an opera and a large collection of chamber works which have become an integral part of Danish national heritage. He even made it onto Danish banknotes for a while before being ousted in 2009 (anyone else seeing a similarity between him and Elgar, who was also unceremoniously dumped from £20 notes?).
Credits: Thanks to Wikipedia and various other websites for this information – too many to list, but nothing written above is directly quoted from other websites in any case.