University of Manitoba - University Governance - Vigdis Finnbogadottir, LL.D., August 4, 1989
Vigdis Finnbogadottir, LL.D., August 4, 1989
Vigdis Finnbogadottir

Vigdis was born in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, on April 15, 1930. Her father was Finnbogi Rutur Thorvaldsson, Civil Engineer and Professor at the University of Iceland, and her mother Sigridur Eiriksdottir (customarily Icelandic women keep their maiden name after marriage), for thirty six years Chairman of the Icelandic Nurses Association.

Vigdis matriculated from Junior College, Menntaskolinn i Reykjavik, in 1949. She studied French and French Literature at the Universities of Grenoble and Sorbonne in Paris, specializing in Drama. Later on she studied in Denmark and Sweden and concluded her studies, adding English, English Literature and Education, from the University of Iceland. Vigdis taught French at Junior College for a number of years, first at her old College, Menntaskolinn i Reykjavik, but later on joining the staff of a new, experimental Junior College, Menntaskolinn vid Hamrahlid, there taking on the responsibilities of planning and building up the French Teaching Department.

Teaching in winter Vigdis joined the Icelandic Tourist Bureau during the summer, working as a Tourist Guide. There she was responsible for receiving many foreign journalists and writers, guiding them around Iceland and helping them gather what material and information they wanted or needed. During those years she also built up the guide-training within the Bureau and headed that for a number of years. In her sabbath year from teaching Vigdis stayed in France, studying the cultural relations between Iceland and France in the 19th century.

Since 1972 Vigdis has been Director of the Reykjavik Theatre Company. Under her guidance, the Company has flourished and during those years she has been especially active in opening channels for Icelandic playwrights.

Vigdis has taught French Drama at the University of Iceland, worked for the Icelandic State Television giving lessons in French and introducing the theatre in a popular cultural series. She was a member of Grima, the first experimental theatre group in Iceland, has been Chairman of Alliance Francaise, has given lectures on Icelandic culture abroad and has, since 1976,  been a member of an Advisory Cominitteo on Cultural Affairs in the Nordic Countries, of which she has been Chairman since 1978.

-citation delivered by Kirsten Wolf, Associate Professor, Head, and Chair, Icelandic Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts