Astrid Lindgren Biography

(Swedish Writer Known for Her Children's Books: ‘Pippi Longstocking’ and ‘The Six Bullerby Children’)

Birthday: November 14, 1907 (Scorpio)

Born In: Vimmerby, Sweden

Astrid Lindgren was a famous Swedish author best known for her children’s book series. Raised in a farm near Vimmerby, she had a very happy childhood, playing with her siblings, working at the farm side by side with maids, farmhands, and temporary workers. Stories were also an integral part of her childhood; she listened to her first tale at the age of four when the daughter of a farmhand read out to her about the giant ‘Bam-Bam’ and the fairy ‘Viribunda’, igniting in her a love for them. A rebel in her adolescent years, she became the first girl in the town to cut her hair short and an unwed mother at eighteen. She eventually became a writer, creating her first story, that of ‘Pippi Longstocking,’ at her daughter’s request. Eventually, she produced 34 chapter books and 41 picture books, which together have sold over 165 million copies and have been translated into numerous languages.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Astrid Anna Emilia Lindgren, Astrid Anna Emilia Ericsson

Died At Age: 94


Spouse/Ex-: Sture Lindgren

father: Samuel August Ericsson

mother: Hanna Johnsson

siblings: Gunnar Ericsson, Ingegerd Ericsson, Stina Ericsson

children: Karin Lindgren, Lars Lindgren

Born Country: Sweden

Children's Authors Swedish Women

Died on: January 28, 2002

place of death: Stockholm, Sweden

More Facts

awards: Litteris et Artibus
International Swede of the Year
Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis

Nils Holgersson Plaque
Svenska Dagbladet Literature Prize
Expressens Heffaklump
Selma Lagerlöf Prize
Right Livelihood Award
Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
Zilveren Griffel
Hans Christian Andersen Award
Officier des Arts et des Lettres‎
Illis Quorum
Order of Freedom

Childhood & Early life
Astrid Anna Emilia Lindgren (née Ericsson) was born on 14 November 1907, at Näs, located near Vimmerby, a small town in south-eastern Sweden. Her father, Samuel August Ericsson, was a tenant farmer and a great story-teller. Her mother’s name was Hanna (nee Jonsson).
Born the second of her parents’ four children, she had an elder brother named Gunnar, who later became a member of the Swedish parliament and the author of political satires. Younger to her were two sisters, Stina and Ingegerd. Among them, Stina worked as a translator and Ingegerd became a journalist.
Raised on a farm, Astrid had a very happy childhood, secure in the love of her family. But later as she entered her teens, she became a rebel and saw every play and movie that came to town.
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Early Career & Birth of Lars
Possibly in 1924, Astrid Ericsson graduated from school and joined a local newspaper, where she proofread, wrote tiny notices and short reports. Very soon, she became involved with the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Reinhold Blomberg, a married man with seven children, becoming pregnant with his child in 1926.
To avoid scandal, she moved to Stockholm all by herself, where she entered a secretarial course at the Bar-Lock Institute. Later, she moved to Copenhagen, where on 4 December 1926, she gave birth to her son, Lars, and promptly returned home, leaving him in foster care.
In 1927, she joined Svenska Bokhandelscentralen’s radio department, where her job was to deal with customers’ complaints. Later in 1928, she joined Royal Automobile Club (KAK), where she met her future husband. All along, she kept in touch with her child.
War Diaries
In 1931, Astrid Ericsson married Sture Lindgren and sent for Lars, who then started living with them. Her daughter, Karin, was born on 21 May 1934. To raise extra money, she now began taking part-time jobs and also wrote for magazines.
In 1937, she was employed as the secretary to Harry Söderman, Associate Professor of Criminology at Stockholm University. During this period, she not only absorbed his knowledge, but also observed his persona, later using them in her stories.
In September 1939, as the Second World War broke out, she started noting down war-related news as well as routines od her day-to-day life, filling up seventeen diaries till 1945. Meanwhile in 1940, she started working at the secret services’ department, where she was tasked with censoring letters.
An Author is Born
In 1941, Karin became ill and while lying sick in bed, she begged her mother to tell her a story about ‘Pippi Longstocking’. To placate her ailing daughter, Astrid Lindgren made up an instant story, creating a character as remarkable as her name.
In early 1944, Astrid sprained her ankle and to pass her time, she started putting down the story of ‘Pippi Longstocking’ on paper and sent the first manuscript to Albert Bonniers Förlag. It was rejected.
Also in 1944, she submitted another manuscript, ‘Britt-Marie lättar sitt hjärta’ (Britt-Mari Lightens Her Heart), to a writing competition held by Rabén & Sjögre and won the second prize. Published in the same year, it became her debut novel.
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In 1945, she slightly altered the story of ‘Pippi Longstocking’ and submitted it to Rabén & Sjögre for that year’s competition. This time, it won the first prize and the story was published in the form of a book in November. It became an instant hit.
In 1946, she had two more books, ‘Pippi Goes on Board’ and 'Bill Bergson, Master Detective'. From then onwards, she would have at least one, more often two, and sometimes even three books published every year, writing 34 chapter books and 41 picture books throughout her life.
In 1946, she was also appointed the chief editor of children’s fiction at Rabén & Sjögre, continuing to hold the position till 1970, doing her own writing in the morning and editing others’ work in the afternoon. Concurrently, she also began to travel internationally, talking about her books and giving interviews.
Equally conscious about her civic duties, she wrote ‘Pomperipossa in Monismania’ in protest against the 102% marginal tax rate that she incurred in 1976. The ensuing debate resulted in the loss of mandate for Social Democrats. She was also vocal about children’s rights as well as animal rights.
Major Works
Astrid Lindgren is best known for her Pippi Longstocking series, which consists of three chapter books, three short stories and a number of picture book adaptations. Published between 1945 and 1948, the chapter books have been translated into 76 languages and made into several films and television series.
She is equally known for her Emil i Lönneberga series, which consists of twelve books, written between 1963 and 1997. Till 2014, the books had been translated into 44 languages and adapted into five movies.
Awards & Achievements
Lindgren had received many awards, including the inaugural Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis award for the German edition of her book, ‘Mio, min Mio’ (1956), Hans Christian Andersen Medal for ‘Rasmus på luffen’ (1958), the gold medal from the Swedish Academy (1971) and Right Livelihood Award (1994).
Family & Personal Life
On 4 April 1931, Astrid Lindgren married Sture Lindgren, remaining married to him until his death on 15 June 1952. Their daughter, Karin Lindgren, grew up to be a Swedish translator.
Her son, Lars Lindgren, born out of her liaison with Reinhold Blomberg prior to her marriage, was an engineer. However, he worked for ‘Tre Lindgren AB’, a company that managed the rights to Astrid Lindgren’s theatrical and film scripts. He died in 1986.
She died on 28 January 2002, at her home in Stockholm. She was then ninety-four years old and was survived by her daughter, Karen. Her funeral at the Storkyrkan in Gamla stan was attended by the Swedish royal family and also the prime minister. Later, she was buried in Vimmerby.
Asteroid 3204 Lindgren, discovered in 1978, was named after her.
A sculpture named Källa Astrid now stands near to her childhood home, at the spot where she first heard a fairytale. Close to that, stands a museum in her memory. Her childhood home is also open to the public.
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, awarded to authors of children’s and youth literature, was established in 2002.

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