Jón Sveinsson – Nonni was born on the 16th November 1857 at Möðruvellir in Hörgárdalur where he was raised until the age ofseven. His parents were respectable people and brought up their children in a good Christian spirit. In 1865 the family moved to Akureyri into a little black wooden house which today is called the”Nonni´s house”. His father died when Nonni was eleven years old. The times were difficult and it was too much for his mother to support herself and her children.
In 1870, when Nonni was twelve years old, a French nobleman offered to pay for his education in France. Because of the war in Europe at that time,Nonni first travelled to Denmark where he spent one year and became a Roman Catholic. After that he travelled to France and started his studies at The Latin School in Amiens. Nonni’s younger brotherManni also began his studies at the same school but died very young, only 23 years old.
Nonni finished his studies at the Latin School and became a member of the Jesuit order in 1878. He studied literature, philosophy and theology for fiveyears at universities in France, Belgium and Holland. In 1883 he became a teacher at a Catholic school in Ordrup in Denmark where he worked for the next 20 years.
In 1912, Nonni gave up teaching due to illness. After that he started to write about his childhood adventures and travelled around the world,lecturing. Nonni wrote 12 books and delivered altogether about 5000 lectures. His books have been translated into approximately 40 languages.
Jón Sveinsson – Nonni died in Cologne in Germany in October 1944 at the age of 86.
From left: Nonni. Gunnar Gunnarsson poet, Baron von Jaden and the Danish Consul in Vienna, Mr. Wilhelm Voit-Proch.
You will find more information about Nonni on the German homepage of Nonni-Fanclub-Deutschland: http://www.home.funcity.de/Nonni-Fanclub-Deutschland
The statue of a reading boy reminds us of Jón Sveinsson – “Nonni” – and inspires others to do the same. The bronze statue symbolizing “Nonni” wasinstalled by his great admirer Rev. Hermann Josef Hieronymi in the 1960s in his parish in Cologne.
The “Nonni-Brunnen” (Nonni fountain), originally built by Rev. Hieronymi, was later changed into a concrete platform with stones and flowers which is easier to take care of. Reading “Nonni” booksbrings one to realize how simple living, honesty and faith are necessary for our well being.
Congratulations to Gunnar Guðmundsson for winning the Icelandic Literature Award 2013 for his biography of Jón Sveinsson – Nonni! The President of Iceland, Ólafur RagnarGrímsson, presented the award to Gunnar.