1907 - 2002
Some people believe they will live forever and cannot even contemplate thinking about the day when they will be no more. Astrid was like that. But it is so true what Lovis says to Mattis when Skalle-pär is gone. Nobody lives for ever. And yes, we do miss her.
Astrid Lindgren was born 14 November 1907 in Näs, on a farm on the outskirts of Vimmerby. Astrid had three sisters and brothers. One brother, Gunnar, who was almost a year older than her, and two sisters, Stina and Ingegerd, who were a couple of years younger. Astrid's father, Samuel August, was a farmer. Her mother was called Hanna.
Perhaps the most important thing when writing about Astrid's happy childhood is the fact that her mother and father loved each other deeply. Samuel was only 13 years old when he saw Hanna for the very first time; he fell in love straight away; a love that lasted the rest of his life. Astrid says that it felt so safe having them as parents, knowing they cared for one another so much and that they were always there for the children. They let them play happily and freely and were always around when they were needed.
Both of Astrid Lindgren's parents were nice and unusual people. But her father was very special. He was not only a warm and caring human being who was liked by everybody, but he was also a happy person especially when he was with his Anna. To be able to live so very close to such a person, filled with warmth and joy, can provide a child with a fundamental belief that life is wonderful. And that is what Astrid Lindgren shows us in nearly all of her books.
Astrid Lindgren collects almost all her narrative desire and her happiness from her childhood. In those days there was no TV or Radio, you socialised with people who lived in the neighbourhood.
It was in Vimmerby where Astrid found most of her inspiration. This is where police constable Björk walks the misty summer streets in Master Detective Blomkvist. This is where Mardie and Alva go shopping. This is where Pippi Longstocking goes from one shop to the next with her bag full of gold coins. This is where Emil goes to the market and gets himself a horse. This is where the battles between the Red and White roses take place. In one book after another Astrid Lindgren has thought of this picturesque town with its wooden houses, steep alleys and tiled streets. And her books show how much she likes it. Because it is when she begins to describe the small undulating alleys, a special atmosphere builds up in her narrative.
But what kind of little girl was Astrid? She was very lively and inventive, people who knew her back then tell us. It was fun playing with her because she always thought of games to play. One of her best friends she describes in the Mardie books. Ann-Marie is Mardie. Ann-Marie describes Astrid as a very nimble person who when little loved to climb trees. When they had their P.E. classes Astrid could climb up to the roof like a monkey. Mardie and Mia dare each other to climb the roof of the schoolhouse. And in the book Katy in Italy Katy has to walk the gutter as she has forgotten the door key.
Astrid remembers very little of her teenage years. Everybody was in love except for Astrid, nor did she think she was particularly pretty. But what distressed her most was that she couldn't play as she used to. When she was 18, her childhood and adolescence were ended because of her pregnancy. In those days it was a scandal to become pregnant without being married. And Astrid had no wish to marry the father of the child. To escape the gossip she left her home and went to Stockholm. She took courses to become a secretary and started to work in an office. But being a single mother back then was extremely difficult. There were no day-care centres. Astrid had to send her son to a foster home until she could take care of him.
When Astrid was 23 years old she had found the man she wanted to marry. His name was Sture Lindgren and he was her boss. In the spring of 1931 Astrid Ericsson became Mrs. Astrid Lindgren. Three years later when her son Lasse was 4½ years old, they got a girl, Karin. When Astrid was 41 Lasse got married and moved away from home. When she was 44 her husband, Sture, died.
Astrid continued to work at Rabén and Sjögren for many years as editor and soon started to work with children's literature even from a publishing point of view.
Her first break as a writer came with her book about Pippi Longstocking, and the rest is as you know, history.
"In Vimmerby, we are extra proud that Astrid came from here. Nobody can take that away from us. The people who visit us are so very grateful for what Astrid did. We at the Tourist Office hear many people sing her praises. Astrid described in vivid detail something that can at any time be witnessed in reality - here in Vimmerby.
What would Vimmerby be without Astrid? What would Astrid be without Vimmerby? Thank you Astrid."
Christina Thorstensson, Vimmerby Turistbyrå
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