Day 19: 🇩🇰  The Copenhagen Trilogy

The Copenhagen Trilogy consists of Childhood (1967), Youth (1967) and Dependency (1971). They were first published by Penguin in English in 2019.

Book 1: Childhood

In a Nutshell:

Childhood is the first volume in The Copenhagen Trilogy, from one of Denmark’s most celebrated twentieth-century writers. Childhood is written in a similar vein to Elena Ferrante’s and Natalia Ginzburg’s work. A mixture of fiction and biography.

Childhood tells the story of Tove. Tove is a misfit, not quite fitting into her surroundings.  In her working-class neighbourhood in Copenhagen, she is enthralled and confused by her parents and her brother as well as the girls around her, like Ruth. She knows that a world exists out there for her, worlds away from the streets of Copenhagen.

Childhood is a portrait of girlhood and female friendship, told with lyricism and intensity.


“When I couldn’t explain my growing melancholy to myself, I thought that the worldwide depression had finally hit me.”

“One day my brother said to me that I should  try to sell one of my poems to a magazine, but I didn’t think anyone would  pay money for them. I didn’t really care, either, as long as someone would print them, but I would never come face to face with that ‘someone’. Someday when I was grown up, my poems would of course be in a real book, but I didn’t know how that would come about. My father probably knew, but he said that a girl can’t be a poet, so I wouldn’t tell him anything about it. It was enough for me anyway to write the poems, there was no hurry to show them to a world that so far had only laughed and scorned them.”

Book 2: Youth

In a Nutshell:

Youth is the second book by Tove Ditlevsen about her formative years, growing up in Denmark. I loved Childhood and Youth didn’t disappoint. It was like reading an email/letter from a close friend.


“As long as I live here I’m condemned to loneliness and anonymity. The world doesn’t count me as anything and every time I get hold of a corner of it, it slips out of my hands again.”

“The world is constantly changing – it’s only my childhood’s world that endures.”

Book 3: Dependency

In a Nutshell:

The third and concluding book is probably the most heartbreaking yet the most beautiful of the three books. It tells of Tove’s marriages, her success as a writer and her years of addiction, addicted to drugs and alcohol. What a talent, a joy to read these three different yet wonderful books. I truly slipped into another world for a while.

Stockists:Want to read The Copenhagen Trilogy? Buy it here.

The Copenhagen Trilogy

Written by Tove Ditlevsen

Translated from the Danish by Tiina Nunnally

26/01/2021, Penguin Books Ltd

ISBN: 9780241457573

#WITMonth for 2021 is curated by Jess Andoh-Thayre

I am 35, from London but currently living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I have lived in Tanzania, Chile, Spain and now Cambodia. I am married to a diplomat and we have been posted in Dar es Salaam and now Cambodia. Prior to married life, I had also lived in La Serena, Chile and Madrid, Spain.

I am a French, Spanish and English teacher, translator, avid reader and now blogger. When I am not teaching, reading and blogging, I love seeing a brilliant sunset, swimming and hanging out with my husband and son.

Please follow me @jessandohthayre on Twitter and follow my book journey here

Author: Tove Ditlevsen

Tove Ditlevsen is one of Denmark’s most famous writers. She was born in 1917 in Copenhagen. Her first volume of poetry was published when she was in her early twenties, and was followed by many more books, including her three brilliant volumes of memoir, featured in this review. She married four times and struggled with alcohol and drug abuse throughout her adult life until her death by suicide in 1978.

Translator: Tiina Nunnally

Tiina Nunnally is an American writer and translator. She translates from Swedish, Danish and Norwegian into English. She was awarded the prestigeous PEN Translation Prize in 2001. The Swedish Academy honored Nunnally in 2009 with a special award for her contributions to “the introduction of Swedish culture abroad.” In 2013, she was appointed Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.

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