Texture background courtesy of ghostbones
Photo of KB is my photo of a photo at the KB Museum
Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (Apr 17th 1885 – Sept. 7th 1962, was the daughter of writer and army officer Wilhelm Dinesen and Ingeborg Westenholz.
She was a Danish author also known under her pen name Isak Dinesen. Blixen wrote works both in Danish and in English. She is best known, at least in English, for Out of Africa, her account of living in Kenya, and one of her stories, Babette’s Feast, both of which have been adapted into highly acclaimed, Academy Award-winning motion pictures. In Denmark she is best known for her works Out of Africa and Seven Gothic Tales.
In 1913 Karen Dinesen became engaged to her second-cousin, the Swedish Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke, after a failed love affair with his brother. The couple moved to Kenya, where in early 1914 they used family money to establish a coffee plantation, hiring African workers, predominantly the Kikuyu tribespeople who lived on the farmlands at the time of their arrival. About the couple’s early life in Africa, Karen Blixen later wrote, "Here at long last one was in a position not to give a damn for all conventions, here was a new kind of freedom which until then one had only found in dreams!”
The two were quite different in education and temperament, and Bror Blixen was unfaithful to his wife. She was diagnosed with syphilis toward the end of their first year of marriage, which although eventually cured (some uncertainty exists), created medical anguish for years afterwards. The Blixens separated in 1921 and were divorced in 1925.
During her early years in Kenya Karen Blixen met the English big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton, and after her separation she and Finch Hatton developed a close friendship which eventually became a long-term love affair. Finch Hatton used Blixen’s farmhouse as a home base between 1926 and 1931, when he wasn’t leading one of his clients on safari. He died in the crash of his de Havilland Gipsy Moth biplane in 1931. At the same time, the failure of the coffee plantation, due to the worldwide economic depression and the unsuitability of her farm’s soil for coffee growing, forced Blixen to abandon her beloved farm. The family corporation sold the land to a residential developer, and Blixen returned to Denmark, where she lived for the rest of her life.
Blixen died in 1962 at Rungstedlund, her family’s estate, at the age of 77.