“Don’t let them get you down. Be cheeky. And wild. And wonderful.”

Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Anna Emilia Lindgren was born on November 14th, 1907, in Sweden. She grew up on a farm with three siblings. 

After finishing school, she worked at a local newspaper, where she had a relationship with the chief editor. He was fifty years old and married but proposed marriage when Astrid became pregnant. She declined and moved to Stockholm to have her son Lars at a hospital that didn’t require the father’s name. Lars was born on December 4th, 1926. 19-year old Astrid left him in the care of a foster family, but visited him often. When he was three, his foster mother became ill, and Astrid worked to take over his care, eventually saving up enough money to bring him home.

In 1928 she began to work as a secretary for the Royal Automobile Club, and in 1931 she married Sture Lindgren, her boss at the company, shortly after he divorced his wife. In 1934 she gave birth to her daughter Karin. While Karin was sick in bed, Astrid made up stories for her, later becoming her famous character Pippi Longstocking. After the publication of the first Pippi Longstocking book in 1945, Astrid began to work as a book editor, where she stayed until her retirement in 1970. She would write her own books in shorthand in bed in the mornings before going to work. 

She wrote more than 100 works during her lifetime, including novels, short stories, plays, songbooks, and poetry. In addition to Pippi Longstocking, other well-known works include The Children of Noisy Village series, The Tomten, Now that Night is Near, https://bookshop.org/books/now-that-night-is-near/9781782506751 and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter. She is Sweden’s most famous author, and her books have sold more than 145 million copies all over the world and been translated into 90 languages. She won many prizes, including the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen medal in 1958. 

She was also an outspoken advocate for children’s and animal rights, and in 1976 wrote an essay that changed tax laws. 

She died on January 28th, 2002, in her home in Stockholm.

Lesson from Lindgren:

Difficulties in her early life easily could have taken her down. Even today it’s not easy to pursue a dream as a young single parent. Yet, she did. And her lovable rebellious character Pippi is still turning the world on its head today. 

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