Born in Norway in 1828, Ibsen began his writing career with romantic history plays influenced by Shakespeare and Schiller. In 1851 he was appointed writer-in-residence at the newly established Norwegian Theatre in Bergen with a contract to write a play a year for five years, following which he was made Artistic Director of the Norwegian Theatre in what is now Oslo. In the 1860s he moved abroad to concentrate wholly on writing. He began with two mighty verse dramas, Brand and Peer Gynt, and in the 1870s and 1880s wrote the sequence of realistic ‘problem’ plays for which he is best known, among them A Doll’s House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, Hedda Gabler and Rosmersholm. His last four plays, The Master Builder, Little Eyolf, John Gabriel Borkman and When We Dead Awaken, dating from his return to Norway in the 1890s, are increasingly overlaid with symbolism. Illness forced him to retire in 1900, and he died in 1906 after a series of crippling strokes.