Torfhildur Þorsteinsdóttir Hólm (b. Kálfafellsstaður, Iceland, 1845 – d. 1918, Reykjavík, Iceland) was a pioneer Icelandic author who lived for many years in Canada. She was the first novelist and woman author to make a living of her profession in Iceland. She wrote historical novels and short stories that were published outside Iceland, notably in the United States and Denmark.
In 1876, when her sister Rannveig decided to emigrate to the Northwest Territories to join her husband, Sigtryggur Jónasson, later known as « the father of Icelandic settlement in Canada », Torfhildur decided to accompany her. For nine years, on an irregular basis, she lived with the couple in the colony of New Iceland, in what is now Manitoba. In 1885 she moved to Winnipeg, where she earned a living as a teacher and writer until she returned to Iceland in 1889.
Torfhildur Þorsteindóttir Holm spent her first two years in Canada collecting a large number of stories from Icelandic immigrants, which she transcribed, edited and published in 1962 in Reykjavik. In 1891, two years after her return to Iceland, the government granted her a public writer’s grant because of the quality of her work and because she was the first recognised female writer in Iceland. She thus occupies an important place in the history of Icelandic literature.
In Torfhildur fell ill during the Spanish flu and died in Reykjavík the same year. The plaque is on the the house where Torfhildur Hólm lived at the end of her life, at Ingólfsstræti 18 in downtown Reykjavik.
Address: Reykjavík, Ingólfstræti 8