A short biography

Astrid Lindgren grew up shortly after the turn of the Century at the Näs homestead near Vimmerby, in the county of Småland. Her childhood is a happy time, with the love of her parents providing her constant security. Astrid and her three siblings enjoy their games in the fantastic playground the Näs property provides. But their days consist of other things too, besides playing. All available labour is needed on a farm, and the Ericsson children share the toil with the maids and farmhands. One of the farmhands has a daughter called Edit. It is in her kitchen that Astrid hears the fairytale which begins to awaken her hunger for books – a passion that lasts a lifetime.

At school, Astrid is good at writing and after getting a composition published in the Vimmerby Times earns the nickname, Vimmerby’s Selma Lagerlöf. She later joins the paper in a voluntary capacity. After two years with the paper she quits. Astrid is now eighteen years of age and pregnant. She does not wish to live her life together with the child’s father, nor does she want to stay in Vimmerby.

A new life begins

Astrid leaves Vimmerby and creates a life for herself in Stockholm where she acquires qualifications as a shorthand-typist. These skills will prove to be very useful to her later on.

In 1928, through her work as a secretary at the Royal Automobile Club, Astrid meets her husband to be, the office manager, Sture Lindgren. Sture is an extroverted person, humorous and genial – enjoys being surrounded by good friends. Astrid occasionally takes part in the nightlife, but is just as happy to stay home with a good book. A love for books is something the couple have in common, as is the humour.

After the war it becomes possible to travel around Europe again, and Astrid happily accompanies Sture on his business trips. Sometimes they travel by car together with their colleagues and friends by the name of Hedner. (Neither Sture nor Astrid had a driver’s licence!)

Before long the little flat in Vulcanusgatan begins to feel a bit cramped for the family which now consists of Astrid, Sture and their two children Lasse and Karin. In 1941 they move to the apartment in Dalagatan which will be Astrid’s home for the rest of her life. The family spend their summers in Furusund in the Stockholm Archipelago, the place on earth that Astrid loved the most. This is where she gets the inspiration to write the stories about Seacrow Island.

Dual Roles – Publishing Editor and Author

When the first book about Pippi Longstocking is published in 1945 by the publishing firm, Rabén & Sjögren, it changes Astrid’s life. The book becomes a great success, loved by children and grown-ups the world over.

A year or so later, Astrid Lindgren begins her work as children’s book editor for Rabén & Sjögren and is soon made responsible for the publication of children’s books. She writes her own books, in shorthand, sitting in her bed at home (in Dalagatan) until 11:30 in the mornings. In the afternoons she turns into Children’s Book Editor Lindgren which entails meetings with authors and illustrators at the publishing house, proofing texts and making decisions about what to publish. She stays with Rabén & Sjögren until her retirement in 1970.

Around Easter time in 1950 Sture becomes ill, and in 1952 he dies only fifty-three years old.

A voice in society

From living the life of an ordinary housewife, she is now a world famous author. With the fame comes the fact that she often finds herself in the spotlight whilst her private life is steadily diminishing – something she is not very comfortable with. In spite of this, she initiates a debate in 1976 about taxation policies and this contributes to the downfall of the Social Democratic government, after forty years in power.

This is the first time Astrid gets seriously involved in current affairs – but not the last. Two years later she receives the German Book Traders’ Peace Prize and her speech at the award ceremony becomes the starting point for an international debate about the use of corporal punishment in child-raising. She takes an active stand for the “No” side in the Swedish referendum concerning nuclear power in 1980. She also gets involved in a campaign against unethical treatment of animals, which eventually results in new animal protection laws.

At the age of ninety-one, Astrid suffers a stroke and finds it increasingly difficult to get around and appear in public. In January 2002 Astrid Lindgren passes away at her home in Dalagatan. The funeral is held on March 8th – International Women’s Day. The streets of Stockholm are crowded with people following the cortege through the city on its way to The Great Church, in Stockholm’s old town.

© Stig A Nilsson, Scanpix