Since March 8th was International Women’s Day, I am writing series on Great Swedish Women, past and present: women with strength and passion, women with a voice, women who create change. For seven days, I am writing about these women, one per day. I hope you want to join me in celebrating them.
Part 3: writer Astrid Lindgren, creator of the strongest girl in the world.
When I moved to Sweden, I vaguely knew about writer Astrid Lindgren. It wasn’t until I arrived here that I understood what impact she has had on generations of Swedish children, and not least on generations of girls. The creator of fictional character Pippi Longstocking showed girls that it is ok to be strong, to be independent, to be different and to be the best.
Astrid Lindgren grew up in Näs, Sweden, and many of her books are based on her family and childhood memories and landscapes. Her most famous character Pippi Longstocking was invented for her daughter to amuse her while she was ill in bed. She wrote many classic stories – the most famous being Emil in Lönnerberga, Karlsson on the Roof, the Six Bullerby Children, Mio my Mio, The Brothers Lionheart and, my personal favourite Ronja the Robber’s Daughter. Her fiction formed the backdrop of the childhood of many Swedish children and, even today for children around the globe. She is the fourth most published childrens’ author in the world and has to date sold around 144 million books in 95 different languages. She received many awards during her life and was known for her support for children’s and animal rights and her opposition to corporal punishment.
Astrid is a national icon in Sweden and her image currently decorates the 20 kronor note. At her funeral in Stockholm’s Cathedral in 2002, Sweden’s King and Queen and other Royals were in attendance reflecting her importance and contribution to Swedish culture.
Astrid Lindgren gave strength to young Swedish girls and helped them to believe in themselves. In the confident words of the strongest girl in the world, Pippi Longstocking, :
‘I’ve never done that before so I’m sure I can do it’.