Katrín Brynjarsdottír
Timeline: The Kalmar Union

Katrín Brynjarsdottír
Portrait of Katrín Brynjarsdottír

Born c. 1674
Died 20th December, 1716
Kvarssandsteinnaejyar, Nor-Hafsvaedaland Fylk
Profession Novellist, playright, actor, spy

Katrín Brynjarsdottír was a Vinlandic novellist, playwright, actor and spy in the early 18th century. She was one of the leading lights of the Vinlandic Golden Age.

Her background and early life is obscure; there are at least three accounts of her upbringing, two of which were written directly by her. One of her accounts says she was born in or near Logáyfir, another suggests further to the east at Hlynur. It is highly doubtful her patronymic name was even Brynjarsdottír and may have actually been the name of a husband; it is known she was briefly married when she was 18. The fact she spoke Álengsk, and was Catholic, both relative rarities in Vinland at this point, hints she may have had Álengsk parentage or perhaps was even born in Álengiamark itself, but this is just speculation.

She appears in the records of the spymaster Halfdan Gudjónsson as Hervór Alvitr (the name of a legendary Valkyrie) and was sent to spy in St. Hafdiss around 1695. She was back in Fjallasay by August 1701 when her first play The Courtesans debuted at the Skóffur Slód Theatre. She would continue to write for the theatre and its company of players. She would also act in several of plays, not just her own at the theatre. Thorey VII had recently urged the Athing to relax laws banning women acting on the stage and Brynjarsdottír was one of the first tranche of famous female actors.

Her time on the stage brought her to the attention of the merchant Hálldor Gudmundsson who lavished gifts on her. They would marry in 1708. She would retire from the stage but Gudmundsson encouraged his wife to continue to write while he was often away tending to his business.

Making no effort to hide she was a woman, in fact some of her published works trumpeted the fact, she would write 12 plays in total as well as two full-length novels, the most famous of which, Lucky June, was published in 1714. The novel follows the life and adventures of June, an ex-slave from West Africa as he makes his way through contemporary Vinland, making and losing a fortune along the way. Supposedly it is partly based on the experiences of two ex-slaves Brynjarsdottír met in Fjallasay, and one of Gudmundsson's ship captains.

She would die in 1716, at the Gudmundsson estate on Kvarssandsteinnaejyar.

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