Jenny Lind

Born 1820 – Died 1887

By Jen Houston 

Why We Should Care: Dubbed the “Swedish Nightingale,” Lind became an opera singer at age 10. She developed into an international sensation, singing for royalty and brought to North America by circus mogul P.T. Barnum. An avid humanitarian, Lind gave most of her American profits to charities. She also funded the 1854 opening of the Jenny Lind Infirmary for Sick Children in Norwich, England.

Hottest Hook-Ups: Fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen pursued Lind, though she just wanted to be friends. He penned “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Angel,” and “The Nightingale” in her honour. Composer Frédéric Chopin took an interest in her, both musically and financially, and she eventually made plans to marry him while he was fighting tuberculosis, though he died before they could tie the knot. Organizing his funeral, she protested when the church would not let female singers in the choir, delaying it 2 weeks. A compromise resulted in the women singing behind a black velvet curtain.

How She’s Celebrated: As well as several nods in Europe, Canada’s own Jenny Lind Island in Nunavut, and a Californian city named Jenny Lind, are both named after her. Quality dollmaker Madame Alexander immortalized her as a 10-inch collectible, and it’s rumoured that Queen Victoria once threw roses at her feet. The greatest tribute though, is her presence on the Swedish 50 Krona note. It features the singer as the figurehead, accompanied by music notes, celebrating the country’s musical heritage. (Geeze, guys, no Ace Of Base?)

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