Karen Blixen

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these Highlands, a hundred miles to the north and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up, near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limped and restful, and the nights were cold” Karen Blixen Camp is named after the Danish author Karen Blixen who wrote the Out of Africa, one of the most romantic stories told.

Karen Blixen came to Kenya in the early 1914. She, and Swedish Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke were married in Mombasa shortly after her arrival. The couple established a coffee farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills, which was one of the largest estates at that time.

Karen had to learn how to manage the coffee farm herself, since Bror Blixen was often away on safaris. She loved her work and life at the farm, but was even more captivated by the people and the amazing country. Many beloved stories in Out of Africa as well as her paintworks are about the very people who worked for her. During her time in Kenya, Karen built a small primary school at her estate, which offered education for the children of her workers. Karen felt that this was an important initiative and that the children had the right to be given education.

It is general believed that Bror was notorious unfaithful to Karen and that it was his many affairs that broke their relationship, even though she remained very fond of him. Others and more recent accounts claims that, Karen and Bror were indeed very different in education, interests and temperament and that they at an early stage agreed to live in an open relationship.

The love affair

Karen met the famous British nobleman, pilot and hunter, Denys Finch Hatton in 1918, only four years after she arrived to Kenya. The two shared a deep interest in literature, art and music and their friendship slowly developed into a passionate love affair.

Denis loved the African bush. He arranged stylish safaris for the European aristocracy, where comfortable camps were set up in the middle of the bush providing a luxurious retreat for the travelers. Denis often invited Karen to go with him on safaris to the Masai Mara. At this time of day’s safaris easily extended into at least 3-4 weeks or even months. Traveling by ox carriages the two had plenty of time to fully enjoy the splendid Masai Mara landscape. Sometimes going for hunting, sometimes just watching the amazing wildlife. In spirit with their passion for music they brought with them a gramophone and listened to the classical tunes of Mozart and Beethoven blending in with the noises of the African night.

One tragic morning the 14th of May 1931 it all ended. Denis decided to fly to Mombasa in his small Gypsy Moth aircraft, before going on another safari. Just before the small town Voi the plane crashed and Denis was killed instantly. Devastated Karen Blixen buried him at the top of Ngong Hills. Few months after the death of Denis, Karen Blixen returned to her childhood home, Rungstedlund in Denmark in 1931.

Karen Blixen died in her home Rundstedlund in Denmark in 1962. She was 77 years old and world acclaimed writer. She remained ever fond of Kenya, her people and it's beautiful wildlife.

 

Literature

Karen Blixen wrote many much-loved books as Seven Gothic Tales (1934), Out of Africa (1937), Winter's Tale (1942), The Angelic Avengers (1946) and Shadows on the Grass (1960). After her death Letters from Africa, 1914–1931 (1981) and Karen Blixen in Danmark: Breve 1931-1962 (1996) was published.

You can visit the Karen Blixen Museum in Kenya in Karen and her childhood home, Rungstedlund in Denmark.

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