Fifty Years


Fifty Years

By: Páll Stefánsson

Grandeur and ambition. Clean, decisive and bold strokes. Artistic appearance.

Iceland Review is still true to the line its founder Haraldur J. Hamar made half a century ago. His goal—presented in his manifesto, which still hangs on our office wall—was simple.

Has much changed since then? No, Iceland Review continues to take the pulse of the country’s culture; we investigate the latest business ventures, we listen to people, and we try to show Icelandic nature at its best. We cover the autumn blizzards, the winter storms, the calm sea dancing with the midnight sun. We talk to horses, elves and Arctic Terns. We take you inside an ice cave; we visit a herring museum and talk to a bad chef. And a good one. We taste local beer for you, we go to Þorrablót, we climb a hill and a mountain to see the sea. We try to bring to you Iceland as it is. And here, Haraldur J. Hamar, the man who co-founded the magazine, but after a very few years, took over as sole publisher and editor for 37 years, gives us the story of how and why Iceland Review was born, in the autumn of 1963, just over 50 years ago.

Published in the 2014 January-March issue of Iceland Review – IR 01.14. By Haraldur J. Hamar. Translated by Harpa Björk Birgisdóttir. Intro and portrait by Páll Stefánsson.

To experience the 50th anniversary of Iceland Review is to me both a pleasing and peculiar experience. This brainchild of mine was, at the time of its launch in 1963, pioneering in every sense; to publish and distribute a magazine about our country and nation in a foreign language globally! I had no idea how stimulating this initiative would prove; it increased the understanding in Iceland of the necessity for increased flow of information across the ocean—and appears to have sparked interest in Iceland in various countries around the globe. I am no longer involved in the publishing of Iceland Review but was asked to write down my thoughts about the magazine at this turning point. Now, for the very first time, I’d like to discuss how it came to be.


I was raised in the spirit and fashion of the old Icelandic rural culture, which has now vanished into the depths of the past, and as a high school student I aimed to become a servant of our Lutheran National Church. However, when I turned 20 and the time had come to enroll in university, I unexpectedly was presented with an offer to work as a journalist at the country’s largest and most respected newspaper, Morgunblaðið. I seized the opportunity and have never regretted it.

You can read the remainder of this article in the January-March issue of Iceland Review – IR 01.14. Five times a year the print edition of Iceland Review & Atlantica brings you a wealth of articles on all aspects of life in Iceland including Páll Stefánsson’s latest images of the country’s majestic landscape. Click here to subscribe.