Jón Sveinsson Nonni

Where does the name Nonni come from?

Jón Sveinsson – affectionally called Nonni –  was a writer of childrens books that were immensely popular in Iceland, Germany and many parts of Europe, and were translated into many foreign languages.Nonni Jón Sveinsson

The founder of Nonni Travel, Helena Dejak, read his books as a young girl in Slovenia and it became her dream to visit Iceland, the land of fire and ice. Little did she know at the time that she would end up living in Akureyri, Nonni’s old hometown, founding a travel company which makes other people’s dreams of visiting Iceland a reality!

Jón Sveinsson was born on the 16th November 1857 at Möðruvellir in Hörgárdalur where he was raised until the age of seven. His parents were respectable people who 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 “Nonni´s house”. Nonni’s father died when he was eleven years old. The times were hard 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 traveled to France and started his studies at The Latin School in Amiens. Nonni’s younger brother Manni 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 five years 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.