He left Iceland in 1870 for France, where he converted to Catholicism. His children's stories concerning a character named Nonni are well known in Iceland and parts of Europe. His childhood home in Akureyri is now a museum and he has featured on postage stamps. Jón Sveinsson's stories of growing up with his brother Ármann, nicknamed "Manni", were adapted into the television series Nonni and Manni.
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