What’s new and what’s coming up

Hjordis Niven in the living room of the Nivens' chalet, 1994
Hjordis Niven in the living room of the Nivens’ chalet, 1994

There have been a lot of small but interesting additions to hjordisniven.com over the last two months, mostly involving life in England.

18th February 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of Primmie Niven’s birth. To mark it there is now a page devoted to her life, accompanied by a number of ‘new’ photos that do not appear in ‘The Moon’s a Balloon’ or David’s biographies. The most recent addition is a touching obituary written by one of her friends to The Times newspaper in July 1946:

“The death of ‘Prim’ Niven came as a great sorrow to her many friends, for she was one of the gentlest and sweetest of characters. She had a great sense of humour and rare capacity for enjoying life., but wherever she might be seen – in the hunting field, in the ballroom, in the WAAF during the war – she always had a sweet, rather shy smile in her blue eyes which seemed to be watching some vision that only she could see. It was, perhaps, her quiet thoughtfulness which gave that impression. She seemed so at peace with the world and everyone, appearing at the same time to be amused by it all. Her delicate beauty brought joy to all who knew her and wherever she went she radiated happiness.”

1948 David Niven wedding
David and Hjordis, 14th January 1948. Ever wondered why there are so many different photos of them leaving the registry office? This shot explains it. The happy couple are looking up at workmen on ladders who were shouting “Good old Bonnie Prince Charlie” at David.

.Another anniversary passed on 14th January 2018: the 70th anniversary of the marriage of David Niven and Hjördis Genberg-Tersmeden at South Kensington registry office. There is a gallery of Niven-related wedding photos (mostly for anyone curious to see who looked like who), including the remarkable shot above that shows just how intense the media interest was outside the long since demolished registry office.
One of the more mysterious periods of the Nivens’ marriage is 1950-1951,when David decided to take up permanent residence in England (or so he said to the waiting press when he and Hjördis arrived in Southampton in March 1950). After a short time living in Randolph Churchill’s London residence, Hjördis was actually sent to stay in the countryside with Primmie’s parents before ending up at the newly purchased (or perhaps just rented?..) Wilcot Manor House. What was once one page  – Lady of the manor, 1950 – has now been expanded to two – There was always a chap with white gloves, 1950-1951.

Hjordis Genberg in '13 Stolar', 1945
Hjordis Genberg in ’13 Stolar’, 1945

Coming soon, still, is a look at wartime Sweden, and how it would have affected Hjordis’ life between 1939-1945. Which brings me on to Hjördis’ modelling years…

The Nordiska Museet in Stockholm opened a fashion exhibition on 10th November 2017, which features photos of Hjördis Genberg in digital installations. With the help of Hjördis’ niece Anette, we’ve been able to identify Hjördis in over 80 photos from her modelling days at NK. (These can be viewed at digitaltmuseum.se.)

The museum is keen to have other models identified from their photo collections. If you can help, please get in touch – there is a comment section under each photograph on their website.

Another valuable resource is the newly refurbished Swedish film database, available in both Swedish and English. All four of Hjördis’ small (as in very small) Swedish movie appearance are listed, along with promo shots, including a fascinating photo from ’13 Stolar’ – a movie which no longer exists in its complete form. The three models (as listed in the credits) are Hjördis Genberg, Margareta Berglund, and Marjo Bergman.

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