Her first jobs
After graduating from high school, Astrid applied for a job at the Vimmerby Tidning. She was employed as a volunteer on a wage of 60 kronor per month. The work consisted of answering the phone, proofreading, writing theatre reviews and death notices and running errands.
She also did a series of articles called, Take a Hike where together with Madicken and four other girls she journeyed through Småland on foot. Amongst other places, they visited the home of Ellen Key whose radical and trendsetting work The Century of the Child (1900) was well-known and had been translated into many languages. Finally, back in Vimmerby Astrid writes: “Dear little Vimmerby, you’re not such a bad little town to come home to, really. But, God save us from staying here for ever.”
Vimmerby, Stockholm, Köpenhamn
In 1926, Astrid moved to Stockholm. She was pregnant and did not wish to stay in Vimmerby to hear what everybody thought about the scandal of having a child out of wedlock. She acquired qualifications as a shorthand/typist and was employed in 1927 as a secretary at the Swedish Book Trading Centre in the radio section. It was not a well-paid job and her meagre wage had to cover clothing, food and lodgings. And her trips to Copenhagen. Her son Lasse lived with a foster family until such time as Astrid would be able to take care of him. He was constantly in her thoughts and she visited him as often as she could possibly manage. To pay for her tickets she had to save, borrow and pawn things. One Saturday, when she was intending to go, she could not ask the time off because her boss was away. She then decided to play truant, but had the extreme misfortune of meeting her two most senior bosses in the street. When she returned on the Monday, she was fired.
She soon found new employment at the Royal Automobile Club, KAK, where she began as a stenographer. It was at KAK that she met her husband-to-be, the office manager Sture Lindgren. She left the position about the time of her marriage to Sture. Now she was able to give herself to the role of wife and mother whilst still earning some extra money for the housekeeping by writing short stories for a magazine called, Landsbygdens Jul (A Country Christmas).
The Mail-Censorship Office
At the end of the thirties, Astrid worked as secretary to Harry Söderman who was at that time, associate professor in criminology at Stockholm University and writing a paper on criminal technology. Whilst taking dictation, Astrid absorbed enough knowledge to be able to use it in her own books, later on – the ones about Bill Bergson, Master Detective.
In the summer of 1940, she was contacted by Harry Söderman and offered a top-secret job at the Special Intelligence Agency. It was in the mail-censorship office and Astrid referred to it as the “filthy job”. Her assignment, which was not altogether official, consisted of reading foreign correspondence as well as other military mail. The letters – and the whole assignment – gave Astrid insight into the afflictions of the War, and in 1940 she writes in her diary about Germany, calling it an evil beast.
Six books in two years
She thoroughly enjoyed writing, which resulted in several books produced very rapidly. Between 1944 and 1946, Astrid wrote six books for children and teenagers. The first of these, Britt-Mari lättar sitt hjärta (not translated into English) was soon followed by Pippi Longstocking, which became the starting point for Astrid Lindgren’s life as an author.