Big brother Gunnar started school one year ahead of Astrid and she was a little envious of him because he was learning to read and do maths. Not only that, but she had also lost her favourite playmate. But the year after, in 1914 Astrid also started school. It was about the same time that World War I broke out. It was a bit scary starting school so she held onto her mummy’s hand. The priest was there to do the roll-call and it was all so solemn that some of the children began to weep with fear. Astrid also began to cry a bit when her name was called, so she was allowed to go and sit down if she wanted to. But she didn’t want to at all.

“The tears were suddenly gone. I’d broken through the shyness barrier and all I wanted now was to stay with the others. I most certainly didn’t want to go and sit down. In front of me was a pretty, dark-haired girl in a red woollen dress. I wanted to make friends with her. I started to prod her ever so carefully, but then I prodded her a bit more. And a bit more. Then she suddenly turned around and gave me such an angry and punishing look that I wanted to disappear through the floor. But eventually we ended up sitting at the desks next to each other and became the best of friends. Her name was Märta.”

After three years at primary school Astrid was persuaded – and bribed with paper dolls – by Madicken to continue at secondary school. The cost of going to secondary school was around 30 kronor per semester, and not all children would get an education, but Samuel August was able to pay the fees for Astrid and her brother and sisters. Astrid thoroughly enjoyed school and had an excellent language teacher, Mr Tengström, who encouraged her writing and often read out her compositions in front of the class. At the age of 13, she had one of her compositions published in the Vimmerby Times. Astrid did six years of secondary schooling and graduated the same year she was confirmed, in 1923.

Astrid’s primary school report bookAstrid’s Leaving Certificate, received when she left high school at the age of 16German lesson. Astrid on the right with her hand up – from Astrid’s collection