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"Never more than a woman" : IR Volunteer releases new novel

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

Written by Elín de Ruyter

Icelandic Roots is made up of a wonderful group of people from countries across the globe and all from different walks of life. Everyone brings a unique set of skills and experience to the table to make Icelandic Roots the unique and valuable resource it is today, a database and centre for promoting, preserving and celebrating our Icelandic heritage. The database is an invaluable research tool for tracing your Icelandic ancestry and researching the life and times of our forebears.

It is with this in mind that we would like to acknowledge, celebrate and congratulate the release of an exciting new book by one of our very own volunteers:

Aldrei nema kona” is the debut novel written by fellow Icelandic Roots Volunteer Genealogist: Sveinbjörg Sveinbjörnsdóttir.

Picture of Sveinbjörg Sveinbjörnsdóttir's book "Aldrei nema kona". The silhouette of a woman with a sunset background. The image looks like knitted fabric.
"Aldrei nema kona" by Sveinbjörg Sveinbjörnsdóttir

The title speaks so much of what encompasses this novel. “Never more than a woman“ is a rough English translation. This is a heartfelt and compelling story that pays tribute to the lives and struggles of Sveinbjörg's foremothers. It follows the story of her great grandmothers from Skagafjörður in the north of Iceland and gives an honest and raw glimpse into the lives of Icelandic women during the 18th and 19th Century Iceland seen through the eyes of Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir (IR #150586), Guðrún Gísladóttir (IR #68908) and Steinnun Oddsdóttir (IR #68918)

Sveinbjörg resides in Iceland and has been volunteering with Icelandic Roots since 2019, but has been a member for much longer. The granddaughter of a genealogist herself, she has always loved delving into old records. With a thirst to know her roots, she found an internal drive to find out more about the lives of the women that came before her. Sveinbjörg is in a relationship with fellow Icelandic Roots Genealogist, Valdimar Gunnarson, who along with her sisters encouraged her to present her research as a novel, instead of an article in a paper.

Portrait of Sveinbjörg
Sveinbjörg Sveinbjörnsdóttir

She has spent two years researching and writing the book, countless hours searching through church books, census and court records, newspapers, weather logs, local history books and also utilising the Icelandic Roots database. Every character mentioned in the book was a real person and every farm and location historically existed.

For those with Icelandic ancestors, it is a insight into the times for women of the 18th and 19th centuries- the attitudes towards them covering themes of loss, poverty and servitude, but most importantly of resilience, hope, love and survival. It was truly a man‘s world and women often had little say in their own fate, let alone the fate of the children they bore, both in wedlock and out. Through her story Sveinbjörg shows that women had to carry on or perish, and they carried the scars of loss deep within, though it was not on show to the world. The world required a brave face for the sake of survival.

Aldrei nema kona is only available in Icelandic print at this stage. It can be purchased from Penninn Eymundsson or Forlagið (both stores ship internationally). Hopefully one day this treasure of a book will also be released in English.

Well done Sveinbjörg!

You are an inspiration to many seeking the stories of our ancestors and having the courage and heart to tell their story.


Email us your questions or join the conversation on our Facebook Group.

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