Great Europeans

Astrid Lindgren and the characters in her fairy tales.

On 14 November 1907, the famous Swedish children’s writer Astrid Lindgren was born. She created such memorable characters as  Pippi LongstockingEmil i LönnebergaKarlsson-on-the-Roof,  the Six Bullerby Children,  The Brothers Lionheart and many others.

Lindgren’s books were a kind of sensation: the writer knew how to describe children’s characters very precisely and truthfully.

Her characters are deep and realistic, and their adventures are described with sparkling humour and soft irony. In the mid-twentieth century this was unusual, as many children’s writers idealised their little heroes.

Astrid Lindgren’s achievement is unique and important. She was a committed humanist and a person who thought for herself. She fought for the rights of children, for equality, ecology and animal welfare, as well as against violence and oppression. She held on to her beliefs with both courage and seriousness, as well as humour and love.

Astrid Anna Emilia Lindgren was born on the 14th of November 1907 on the farm Näs outside Vimmerby, in the county of Småland, and died on the 28th January 2002 in her home on Dalagatan 46 in Stockholm. She wrote 34 chapter books and 41 picture books, that all together have sold a staggering 165 million copies and been translated into more than 100 languages.

An exceptional oeuvre

Astrid Lindgren’s writing career started in 1944. That was the year her debut novel The Confidences of Britt-Mari came out, but also the year she slipped in ‘Vasaparken’ and was forced to stay in bed with a sprained foot. To pass the time she wrote down the stories about Pippi she had previously told her daughter Karin. In 1945 the first book about Pippi Longstocking was published and the rest, as they say, is history…

“It’s as heavy as a bottle of beer. I’m very proud.”

With those words Astrid Lindgren thanked the Swedish Academy for receiving their grand prize in 1971. Astrid Lindgren was awarded more than 100 prizes during her lifetime. The most unusual one was perhaps ‘Amningshjälpens’ Breastfeeding Cultural Prize that she received in the same year she turned 80 – awarded thanks to a single sentence in Ronja the Robbers’s Daughter “She [Lovis] took the child away from him and placed it onto her breast, and then there were no more tears.”

Astrid in the world

Astrid Lindgren’s global impact is without precedent. No Swedish author has been translated into as many languages as Astrid Lindgren has and the total sale of her books is currently calculated at approximately 165 million copies. Every year new foreign editions of her books are published, regardless of the fact that it’s more than 15 years since she passed away and will soon be almost 40 years since her last great story, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, was published.

‘A childhood without books – that would be no childhood. That would be like being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy’Astrid Lindgren, in “Vi husmödrar”, 1956:10.

Lex Lindgren

Throughout her life Astrid Lindgren consistently opposed injustice and oppression. In addition to her writing career she also emerged as one of our most important opinion-makers. Her words played a significant role in taking down a government and she influenced several Swedish laws both directly and indirectly. For example, for her 80th birthday present she was given a brand new animal rights law, which is sometimes referred to as “Lex Lindgren”.

The Publisher

For 24 years Astrid Lindgren was the head of children’s fiction at Rabén & Sjögren publishers. When she started in 1946 Rabén & Sjögren was a small publishing company on the brink of bankruptcy. Only a few years later it was the leading publisher of children’s literature in the Nordic region. She was the first editor who specialised in children’s literature and she became one of the most accomplished publishers in the history of Swedish publishing.

“The Asteroid Lindgren”

On the 1st of September 1978, the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory discovered an asteroid. In 1996 the asteroid was named by the Russian Academy of Science as “3204 Lindgren” or the “Asteroid Lindgren” after Astrid Lindgren. Apparently when it was made public Astrid Lindgren is supposed to have declared, “From now on please call me Asteroid Lindgren”. Source

Astrid Lindgren Quotes

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