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Mother of Wild Baby gets top kids book nod

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Mother of Wild Baby gets top kids book nod
Barbro Lindgren. File photo: Dan Hansson/TT
15:06 CET+01:00
A stern letter from Astrid Lindgren did not put a stop to Barbo Lindgren (no relation) in 1964. But it would take five decades for this week's Swede of the Week to get a final nod from the grave, as it were, from Astrid.


In 1964, a Swedish wannabe author sent some of her writing to an established author, Astrid Lindgren, who had this to say about the newly-penned character Mats.

"Mats is nice little kid that you feel sympathy for, which one also feels for the authoress, who knows so much about children. But she doesn't know quite as much about how to build up and keep interest in a manuscript."

The letter was long and caring, telling the "authoress" what chapters to kill and accusing the script of lacking proper endings to its chapters - "a common mistake". Towards the end, Lindgren tells her to rework the story about little Mats and submit it to Lindgren's literary competition.

"I do now hope that I haven't drained you of your courage, because that was not my intention. Maybe I will see your script again. I hope so."

A year later, the books about Mattias were published. Almost 50 years later the Astrid Lindgren Prize was awarded to that same aspiring authoress, Barbro Lindgren, who despite sharing the same family name is no relation to the childrens-book great. 

Lindgren (from now on Barbro, not Astrid) was born in 1937 and studied at Stockholm art colleges Konstfack and Konstakademin. 

"But when I started writing, I stopped painting, abruptly," she told Ystads-Allehanda newspaper this week.

A dizzying number of titles followed the stories about Mattias. She has written almost a hundred books, including the anthology of the wild baby that keeps hiding from his mother.

Lindgren's publisher calls her an author who shares her personal stories. The character Loranga was based on her husband, for example. In fact the series of Sparrow books (Sparveln) was based on her own childhood "written in a seemingly simple and uncomplicated language". 

But she does not only address children. Her publisher describes her books for adults as possessing "a uniquely sad undertone".

"Now I only want to write adult books. I feel I've filled my quota of children's books," Lindgren told literary magazine Vi Läser recently. 

Lindgren is the first Swede to be awarded the 5 million kronor ($770,000) prize. 

Editor's Note: The Local's Swede of the Week is someone in the news who - for good or ill - has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as Swede of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.

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