Eline Begtrup (1860-1947)

Grundtvigian folk high school teacher, teacher of zoology and English at Askov Folk High School 1886-95, headmaster of Levring Folk High School 1897-1905 and 1909-17, freelance lecturer and science writer, sister to Holger Begtrup.

Eline Begtrup was instrumental in introducing natural history and in particular evolutionary theory at the Protestant Grundtvigian folk high schools. She lectured on Darwinism from the 1890s and published widely on Charles Darwin and the history of evolution in Grundtvigian periodicals, including the leading mouthpiece for the liberal fraction of the movement, Højskolebladet [The High School Magazine]. By arguing that Darwinism and Christianity were not mutually exclusive, she played an important role in legitimising the teaching of evolution at the folk high schools. Moreover, Begtrup wrote several popular works on natural history including a biography of Carl Linnaeus, Carl v. Linné (Copenhagen: Gad, 1914), a poetical and pro-evolutionary description of man’s intimate relation to nature, Naturen og Vi [Nature and Us] (Copenhagen: H. Hagerups Forlag, 1911) and a study of animal ethology, Dyresjælen [The Animal Soul] (Copenhagen: H. Hagerups Forlag, 1916). Begtrup was one of the very few women who taught male students and established her own folk high school. At most of the more than one hundred folk high schools in the decades around 1900, the male students had an intense five month education during the winter, while the female students were enrolled for three month during the summer. Begtrup was an active member of the women’s rights movement.  

Hans Henrik Hjermitslev

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