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Not only was Johan Ludvig Heiberg the most famous theater critic of the Danish Golden Age, but he also wrote the most important aesthetic essays about theater. Some of his dramatic works belong to most successful plays ever performed at the Royal Theater. Moreover, Heiberg was married to one of the greatest Danish actresses of the nineteenth century. Both his wife Johanne Luise Heiberg and his mother Thomasine Gyllembourg wrote dramatic works that were performed on the stage of the Royal Theater. At the end of his career Heiberg finally became director of the Royal Theater from 1849 to 1856.
Seen from today´s point of view Heiberg dominated theater life in the mid-nineteenth century Denmark in an absolutely unique and astonishing way. But it is not only because of his remarkable position in the small literary field of Golden Age Denmark that his dramatic works and his theory of theater are worthy of study. As the articles in this volume show, Heiberg's lifelong occupation with theater was closely tied to his far-reaching philosophical and political interests. In this respect his aesthetic essays as well as his plays offer useful material for those hoping to obtain new insight into the cultural life of Golden Age Denmark in general.
Jon Stewart is Associate Research Professor at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre at the University of Copenhagen.