Jón Árnason

Jón Árnason (1819 – 1888), collector of Icelandic folktales, and his wife Katrín Þorvaldsdóttir Sívertsen (1829 – 1895) built the house at Laufásvegur 5 in 1880 and Jón lived there until his death. The house has been known as Jónshús (House of Jón). It is made from gray basalt mixed with lime from Mt. Esja in the capital area.

The Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature put up a plaque on the house in 2019 in Jón's honour, on the 200 anniversary of his birth. 

Jón was an initiator at collecting folktales in Iceland. In his memoirs he tells of his childhood interest in listening to stories and that noone in his childhood home could escape telling him some, even if the boy would be so scared that he had to ask his mother to hold him in his arms in his bed.

Jón started collecting folktales in 1845 together with Magnús Grímsson and their collection Íslenzk ævintýri (Icelandic Fairytales) was published in 1852. Magnús passed away in 1860 but Jón continued collecting folktales. The collection named by him, Íslenskar þjóðsögur og ævintýri (Icelandic folktales and fairytales), first came out in two volumes in 1862 and 1864. Jón Árnason was the first National Librarian of Iceland and instigated the founding of a museum of national relics along with Sigurður Guðmundsson. They jointly took hand of the collection, later to become the National Museum of Iceland.

 

Jón Árnason þjóðsagnasafnari