Ludvig Holberg, baron, a Danish dramatist, born in Bergen, Norway, Nov. 6, 1684, died in Copenhagen, Jan. 28, 1754. When a boy he was placed under the care of the bishop of Munthe, his relative, who caused him to be sent to the college of Bergen, whence at the age of 18 he went to the university of Copenhagen, where he graduated in 1705, and afterward studied philosophy at Oxford. Returning to Copenhagen after 15 months, he was made professor extraordinary in the university, and was commissioned to examine and report upon the Lutheran schools of Holland. He was again appointed professor in the university, first of metaphysics (1718), but ultimately of rhetoric (1720). In 1722 he produced his comedy "The Political Tinman," which received unbounded applause; and at very short intervals 14 other pieces were composed and played with increasing success. His patron Frederick IV. was succeeded in 1730 by King Christian VI., whose religious zeal led him to forbid theatrical entertainments; but Holberg's "Sleeper Awakened," "John of France," "Lying-in Chamber," "False Savant," and others, all pictures in caricature of the manners of the Danish middle classes, had been stamped indelibly upon the public mind.
He next wrote a satirical romance in Latin (1741) called "The Subterranean Travels of Nicholas Klim," which was translated into many languages. Frederick V. restored the theatre in 1746, and gave Holberg a patent of nobility. He never married, and bequeathed his property chiefly to an academy which had been founded at Soroe by Christian IV. for the education of young noblemen. He gave 16,000 crowns as a fund to portion a number of young Danish women. His Danmarks Riges Historie (3 vols., 1732-'5) was the first attempt at writing a thorough history of Denmark. His " History of the Jews " and "Stories of Heroes and Heroines" are works of lasting merit. A collection of his works in 27 vols. appeared at Copenhagen in 1826. He left an "Introduction to Universal History" in Latin, translated into English by Gregory Sharpe, LL. D. (8vo, London, 1755), and his autobiography, an English translation of which also appeared in London in 1830. In 1842 the Holberg society was founded at Copenhagen, which published a critical edition of his comedies (7 vols., 1843-'53).