Margrethe Nørlund

Is your surname Nørlund?

Research the Nørlund family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Margrethe Nørlund

Danish: Margrethe Bohr (Nørlund)
Birthplace: Slagelse, Sjælland, Danmark
Death: 1984 (93)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Alfred Kristian Nørlund and Emma Ottine Sophie Holm
Wife of Niels Bohr, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1922
Mother of Professor Aage Niels Bohr, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1975; Private; Christian Alfred Bohr; Hans Henrik Bohr; Erik Bohr and 1 other
Sister of Niels Erik Nørlund; Thomas Poul Nørlund and (No Name)

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Margrethe Nørlund

The wife and complement of Niels Bohr, Margrethe Norlund Bohr was an integral part of his life and his work. In Act I of Copenhagen, Bohr says that he is "a mathematically curious entity: not one but half of two." He paradoxically half of his marriage, and half of his friendship and collaboration with Heisenberg. Although Margrethe was not present during the conversation between Bohr and Heisenberg, her being in the play is essential since the conversation in the play is akin to Nietzsche's eternal recurrence at the personal level, an exploration of the loss of their sons: Christian, Harald, and Werner. In the play, the characters are like ghosts who haunt those who caused and participated in their pain. Like analysands trapped in memory and trauma, they talk and talk without resolution.

Her role in the play is multi-dimensional. Reed Way Dasenbrock suggests that Margrethe's presence is a way of keeping the physics at the audience's level: two physicists left to themselves would talk like physicists, but the two men have to discuss physics in terms Margrethe (and the audience of the play) can understand. Matthais Dörries similarly suggests that Margrethe is like the chorus in Greek tragedy: she clarifies the conversation/action for the audience. But she also has a more traditionally female function in that she opens the emotional discussions about Heisenberg as the enemy, and her comments keep the men from sublimating jealousy and other negative emotions into disagreements about physics. The scientific is the personal, as the political is the personal. Observer and observed are intertwined in life as in science; the resulting observations are not simple data points. As a complement to her husband, she seems at times the contrary of Heisenberg. Frayn's sharp-tongued fictionalization of her appears at odds with the usual portrait of her as a stately woman who was also a mother to his students.

view all

Margrethe Nørlund's Timeline

March 7, 1890
Slagelse, Sjælland, Danmark
November 25, 1916
Age 26
Sjælland, Danmark
April 7, 1918
Age 28
København, Sjælland, Danmark
June 23, 1920
Age 30
June 19, 1922
Age 32
københavn, Denmark
March 12, 1928
Age 38
København, Hovedstaden, Danmark
Age 93