"Out of Africa" is a memoir written by the Danish Baroness Karen Von Blixen-Finecke and it's published in 1937. The book is a retelling of many stories from Blixen's seventeen years living on a coffee plantation in Kenya which was then know as British East Africa. The plantation was attended by local African Native's … [Read more...] about Out of Africa
Baroness Karen Von Blixen-Finecke was born on April 17th, 1885 in Rungsted, Denmark as Karen Dinesen. The daughter of two wealthy merchant's children, Karen had three sisters and two brothers, all of whom shared a privileged childhood. Unfortunately, this ended when Karen's father committed suicide when she was only ten years old. After this, Karen's life changed significantly as her brothers were sent away to attend school while she began being educated at home by her maternal grandmother and her aunt.
When Karen was a child, she began telling stories to her younger sister that were inspired by Danish folk tales. Soon after this, she began to write poems, plays and short stories and publishing them under the pen name Osceloa which was the name of her father's dog.
In 1902, she attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. While she was in her twenties, she began spending time with her cousin's family in Skane, Sweden and eventually married her cousin Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke and she became Baroness Blixen-Finecke. The two had trouble settling in Denmark, and it was suggested that they move to their uncle's coffee farm in Kenya.
It was while living on this farm, the name of which was M'Bogani, which Karen began writing what would later be her most well-known novel, "Out of Africa." Karen began running the farm while her husband spent most of his time on safari and continued to run it through the outbreak of World War I.
Karen and her husband did not get along, and he requested a divorce from her in 1920 which was granted against her wishes in 1925. After this Karen Blixen officially took over the farms management from her uncle. Karen eventually met an English big game hunter by the name of Denys Finch-Hatton whom she began a love affair with until his death in a plane crash in 1931. At this same time, the coffee farm failed in part due to the Great Depression, and Blixen was forced to sell it.
Karen returned to Rungstedlund to live with her mother where she began to write in earnest. Her first novel, "Seven Gothic Tales" was published in the U.S. In 1934 under the pen name Isak Dinesen. The book was very successful and her second novel, "Out of Africa" (1937) became even more so. Over her lifetime, Karen published seven novels with another seven being published posthumously. The initial seven included an allegory on the horrors of Nazism published during World War II.
In 1960, at the age of 75, Karen began writing a sequel to "Out of Africa" called, "Shadows on the Grass" which contained more stories from her time in Africa. It was the last book she published during her lifetime and revealed, among other things, the vigil that her African staff kept in her house for years after she left.
Karen died on September 7th, 1962 in Rungsted, Denmark from complications due to syphilis that is believed to have been given to her by her husband forty years before. She is still thought of as a national literary hero in Denmark, and a museum exists under her name in Nairobi.