City of Literature - Gröndal’s House





Gröndal's Literary House

Reykjavík, a UNESCO City of Literature, runs a cultural center located in the center of Reykjavík named after the poet Benedikt Gröndal (1826-1907) who once lived there. The house is at the corner of Fishersund and Mjóstræti, having been relocated from its original location at Vesturgata 16a, where it initially stood at the water’s edge.

Benedikt Gröndal was a an ambitious figure of his time, an impressive representative of the 19th century. He was a poet, naturalist, visual artist, and educator. His interest in shaping the city and advancement of Reykjavík as the capital of Iceland is evident from his article "Reykjavík at the Turn of the 20th Century," now published as a book. Beyond his poetry and prose, his writings about city life suggest reforms for the capital, mirroring practices common in major international cities. Gröndal's legacy faded in the mid-20th century, but his significance in Icelandic literature and cultural history has been reaffirmed in recent years by publishing works like ‘Íslenskir fuglar’ (Icelandic Birds) and reissuing his autobiography ‘Dægradvöl,’ (Pastime) one of the most celebrated in Icelandic literature.

The restored Gröndal's House officially reopened in June 2017. It offers workspace for literary artists on the main floor and loft, and the basement houses a guest apartment for foreign authors, translators, and scholars.


Guest stays

Each year, authors from other UNESCO Cities of Literature can apply for a one-month residency at Gröndal's House. The first such author, Chantal Ringuet from Québec City, stayed in October 2019. Québec City has been a UNESCO City of Literature since 2017.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the guest residency was suspended in 2020, but Fiona Khan from the City of Literature in Durban, South Africa, was the guest author in October 2021.

In the fall of 2022, Australian author Ronnie Scott from the literary city of Melbourne stayed at Gröndal's House. He was chosen from a pool of over 100 applicants from UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Ronnie Scott is a senior lecturer in creative writing at RMIT University in Melbourne. His novel The Adversary (2020) was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards and nominated for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. He has written two books for the National Gallery of Victoria and the special issue Salad Days, published by Penguin in 2014. Moreover, he researches and writes about comics for Folio: Stories of Contemporary Australian Comics.