Knud Lyne Rahbek

(1760-1830 / Denmark)

Biography of Knud Lyne Rahbek

Knud Lyne Rahbek poet

Knud Lyne Rahbek (18 December 1760 – 22 April 1830) was a Danish literary historian, critic, writer, poet & magazine editor.

Knud Lyne Rahbek was son of the clergyman Jacob Rahbek, but he had always wanted to become an actor. In his youth he tried out as an actor at the Royal Danish Theatre, but because of his looks he was discarded.

Instead he turned to the role of a writer. He started out as a playwright, writing a series of semi-successful plays most notably the play The young Darcy ("Den unge Darcy" 1780) was a success. But the work that ensured his breakthrough was the work on the theory of acting Letters from an old actor to his son ("Breve fra en gammel Skuespiller til hans søn" 1782) which especially asserts Denis Diderot's love of a mixture of moralizing and naturalism in plays.

Rahbek quickly became one of the most prominent speakers on cultural matters, and with his work as publisher and editor the journals Minerva and The Danish Spectator ("Den danske Tilskuer") he was one of the main voices of the Danish moderate Enlightenment.

Together with librarian and scholar Rasmus Nyerup he founded the Danish study of literary history with the work Contributions to a review of the art of poetry in Denmark ("Bidrag til en oversigt over den danske Digtekonst" (in 5 volumes 1800-1828).

As a prominent member of the most distinguished of the Danish clubs, most notably Drejers Club, he wrote a number of drinking songs. He also was one of the only Danish writers of novels and short stories at the turn of 19th century.

Together with his wife Kamma Rahbek he held his own "court" at his home in the 17th century inn turned private property called "Bakkehuset" in Frederiksberg a suburb of Copenhagen. Almost all of the Danish writers and prominent persons visited Bakkehuset on a regular basis. Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger, Hans Christian Andersen, Bernhard Severin Ingemann, Steen Steensen Blicher all were personal friends of the Rahbeks.

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