Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930)
Norway and the union with Sweden. London: Macmillan & Co., 1905. 8 (18.5 x 12.3cm.) Half-title. Original red cloth (worn). Provenance: Mrs Mullings (presentation inscription from the author 'To/Mrs Mullings/with kindest regards/from/Fridtjof Nansen'); by descent. First edition, third impression.
F.NANSEN. Two autograph letters signed, 'Lysaker': '17 Dec. 1907' and 'Dec. 31st, 1908', the first following the death of his wife 'I cannot write much, but must send you a line to thank you and Mr. Mullings heartily for your nice letter with kind words of sympathy which have touched me deeply', the second, written after his resignation as Norwegian minister in London following his wife's death, 'How very kind of you to think of me and my children. I cannot say how thankful I am. The Christmas Pudding arrived safely and was a great treat to the children and to me also...It seems so strange to be so far away from Victoria Street, and from the life there...Please remember me also to Mr. Quick the porter, he was such a nice fellow', the first with associated envelope, and a black-edged calling card with Nansen's name and the Victoria Street address.
On 27 October 1905, King Oscar of Sweden issued a proclamation in which he relinquished the crown of Norway, and after a plebiscite, the newly independant Norwegian government voted to elect Prince Charles of Denmark as King Haakon VII on 18th November 1905. One of the most urgent matters to be attended to was the appointment of ministers to the great powers. At the request of Edward VII, Nansen was appointed Norwegian minister in London. He arrived on the 15 April 1906, and after an initial period in the Royal Palace Hotel, Kensington, found a set of rooms in a block of service flats at 36 Victoria Street. His neighbours included Mr. and Mrs. Mullings. At the beginning of December 1907, whilst at Sandringham, Nansen received news that his wife Eva was gravely ill in Norway. Her condition worsened, and on 8 December Nansen left England for Norway only to receive a telegram in Hamburg telling him that she had died of pneumonia. The present group of autograph and presentation items recall both Nansen's unexpected and devastating loss and the more prosaic side of his time in London (he had obviously made a favourable and lasting impression on his neighbours): the first of the present two letters, written from his home in Lysaker, is in reponse to a letter of condolence from Mr. and Mrs. Mullings. The second, written at 11p.m. on New Year's Eve of the following year (1908) in response to a gift. (3)