Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Karl Stig-Erland Larsson on August 15, 1954, in Umeå, Västerbottens län, Sweden, in the family of Erland Larsson and Vivianne Larsson. His father worked in the Rönnskärsverken smelting plant and was a Communist while his mother was a noted Social Democrat. Thus political atmosphere prevailed in his home.
His father had to leave the job due to arsenic poisoning and when the family shifted to Stockholm, his parents decided to keep the boy with his grandparents.
He was brought up by his grandparents till nine years of age at the countryside of Bjursele in Västerbotten County. He joined the village school and during snowy winters he used cross-country skis as a mode of transportation to attend school.
His grandfather Severin Boström, an ardent anti-fascist was a dedicated political activist who protested against the Nazis and faced confinement at the time of World War II. As he spent most of his early childhood with his grandparents, his personality was much influenced by them especially by his grandfather who he would cite as his role model.
After his grandfather’s demise he moved to Umea to be with his parents.
His parents were ardent readers of fictions, especially of the crime genre. Their favourite writers include Mickey Spillane and Maj Sjowall, and their influence can be seen in later works of Stieg Larsson.
He also developed a knack for reading in his childhood that culminated to one of his favourite pastimes. The writers he looked up to in his childhood include Astrid Lindgren and Enid Blyton.
He started to write stories at an early age and at twelve he penned down his first novel in a notebook. Upon finding their child’s talent, his parents gifted him a typewriter at his thirteenth birthday.
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His early writings were dominated by science fictions and around 1971 he actively participated at the science fiction fandom of Sweden. ‘SF•72’ held in Stockholm was the first ever science fiction convention that he attended.
Some of his works during the early seventies include co-editing four issues of ‘Sfären’ along with Rune Forsgren and publishing a few short stories in during 1972-73. Some of his other early works found place in amateur magazines.
During his adolescence years his propensity towards the radical leftist views and tpolitics grew and his writings shifted from frictional ones to the more journalistic and political ones.
For sixteen months starting from 1974 he had to undertake a mandatory military service with the ‘Swedish Army’ under the conscription law. He was trained as a mortarman in Kalmar in a unit of infantry.
Thereafter he took part in rallies condemning the ‘Vietnam War’. The war emerged as one of his subjects of writings during that time. He became associated with a radical leftist group ‘Kommunistiska Arbetareförbundet’ and through them he edited a Trotskyist journal ‘Fjärde internationalen’ for a while. During 1974 to 1977 he co-edited nine issues of ‘FIJAGH!’, science fiction fanzines, along with Rune Forsgren.
He went to Eritrea sometime in 1977 and trained a battalion of female guerrillas of the ‘Eritrean People's Liberation Front’ on the use of grenade launchers. His kidney disease however forced him to leave the job in the middle.
In 1977 after returning to Sweden he got a job of a graphic designer in ‘Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå’, a Swedish news agency, and would eventually work as a journalist. He worked with the agency till 1999.
In 1978 and 1979 he served the ‘Scandinavian SF Society’ as one of its board members and in 1980 he became its chairman.
During 1978-79 he served ‘Skandinavisk Förening för Science Fiction’, the largest science-fiction fan club of Sweden, as its president.
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During the 1980s he became a regular writer of ‘Internationalen’, a weekly newspaper of the ‘Socialist Party’.
He also independently researched on right-wing extremism that led him to bring out his first book on the subject, Extremhögern (The Extreme Right) in 1991 co-authored with Anna-Lena Lodenius. Thereafter he played a prominent role in documentation of several right-wing extremist organisations. Eventually he emerged as a leading lecturer and debated several times on the subject even after getting death threats.
He was co-founder of the Swedish anti-racist magazine, ‘Expo’ that was started in 1995. He remained its editor-in-chief since its formation till he was alive. It was published by a non-profit organisation ‘Expo Foundation’ which was founded by him as an outcome of his political sentiment and experience in journalism.
Though he established himself as an activist and a journalist through his years of work, his posthumously published crime novels of the ‘Millennium trilogy’ earned him international accolades and were adapted into films.
The first novel of the series, ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’ meaning ‘Men who hate women’ was published in Sweden in 2005. It was selected in 2005 as the best Nordic crime novel and received the ‘Glass Key’ award. It was later translated in English as ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and published in the UK in February 2008 and in the US on September 16, 2008.
The second one, ‘Flickan som lekte med elden’ was published in Sweden in 2006 which earned the ‘Best Swedish Crime Novel Award’ that year. It was published in the UK as ‘The Girl Who Played with Fire’ in January 2009 and in US on July 28, 2009.
‘Luftslottet som sprängdes’ the third novel of the series was published in Sweden in 2007 and translated in English as ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest’. It was published in the UK in October 2009 and in US in May 2010. ‘Publishers Weekly’ mentions it as the top selling book in the US in 2010.
The books were published in Swedish language by ‘Norstedts Förlag’ and in English language by ‘Alfred A. Knopf’ in the US and ‘Quercus’ in the UK.
Around three-quarter of another novel was found in his notebook computer, this is now in the custody of his lifelong partner Eva Gabrielsson.
Personal Life & Legacy
He was in a long term relationship with architecture historian Eva Gabrielsson whom he met in 1972 during an anti-Vietnam rally. They remained together throughout his life but could not marry due to security risks. The Swedish Law needs couples, who intend to marry, to mention their addresses publicly. This would have posed life risk for Stieg Larsson who for long had received death threats.
On November 9, 2004, he succumbed to a heart attack after he had to climb several stairs to reach his office due to lift disorder. He was buried in the Södermalm district of Stockholm at the ‘Högalid Church’.
Although a will of 1977 was found where he left all his properties for the branch of the ‘Communist Workers League’ (at present the ‘Socialist Party’) at Umeå, but the un-witnessed will became invalid under the law of Sweden.
Since Eva Gabrielsson was not married to him, all his properties inclusive of royalties to be received from further book sales belong to his father and brother. According to Eva Gabrielsson he was not in much contact with his father and brother, which the duo denies. Gabrielsson has refused to hand over his laptop to his family that contains his unfinished novel and the two sides are yet to solve this dispute of controlling his legacy.