Ingeborg Nordin Hennel was a professor of literature and one of the pioneers of Swedish women’s literary studies.
Ingeborg Nordin Hennel grew up in Tvååker in Halland. She was the daughter of Anders Nordin, a public-school teacher, and his wife Anna. Her brother, Thor, was one and a half years her senior and later became a docent in pedagogics at Uppsala university.
After gaining her school-leaving certificate from the Varberg school Ingeborg Nordin Hennel continued her education at Lund university. There she read Nordic languages, literature, German, English, and philosophy amongst other subjects. She gained her Master’s degree in 1956 and then began working as a teaching assistant. In 1959 she married Lennart Hennel, who had a licentiate degree in the arts. The couple had two daughters, Kristina and Lena, who were born in Lund. Their marriage was dissolved in 1975.
From 1964–1971 Ingeborg Nordin Hennel worked as a teaching assistant in Härnösand. The family then moved to Sigtuna. Having already begun her doctoral studies in Härnösand she defended her thesis entitled Den stora vreden: studier i Olof Högbergs prosaepos at Umeå university in 1976. She subsequently worked at the university as a lecturer. She placed the literature of Norrland in a new light and revealed how a new form of expression emerged in conjunction with the industrialisation of western Norrland. She became one of Sweden’s leading experts in Norrland literature.
Ingeborg Nordin Hennel subsequently taught and researched at the department of literature at Uppsala university, where, in 1997, she was appointed professor. In her later research she focused on yet another author with a Norrland background, Alfhild Agrell. However, with Agrell the Norrland aspect took a backseat because what interested Ingeborg Nordin Hennel was Agrell’s role and significance as part of the modernist breakthrough. She was one of the most celebrated playwrights of the era, along with Ibsen and Strindberg, but rapidly became downgraded and discarded from literary studies. The release of Dömd och glömd in 1981 represented one of the first studies to appear within the growing sphere of women’s literary studies. Ingeborg Nordin Hennel returned to Alfhild Agrell later on in her life. Her comprehensive and prize-winning 2014 biography, entitled Alfhild Agrell: rebell, humorist, berättare, offers a wide-ranging contemporary portrayal of that author. This book also interprets Agrell’s writings in a manner which presents them in an entirely new light.
Ingeborg Nordin Hennel also made groundbreaking contributions within theatre studies. Her 1997 book Mod och försakelse thoroughly and minutely describes theatrical life in the 1800s and the conditions which the female stage actors endured. Ingeborg Nordin Hennel and Ulla-Britta Lagerroth co-edited the section of Ny svensk teaterhistoria published in 2006 which deals with the theatre of the 1800s.
Ingeborg Nordin Hennel died in Stockholm in 2017. She is buried in Tvååker.