November 14 marks the birthday of the woman who wrote about
the adventures of a girl named Pippi Lĺngstrump, or, as we know her in
English, Pippi Longstocking. Swedish author Astrid Lindgren was born
Astrid Ericsson on a farm near Vimmerby, Sweden, on November 14, 1907.
She was the second of four children of Samuel August, a tenant farmer, and
Hanna Jonsson Ericsson. As a child, she loved to read, especially
books that had girls as the heroine, such as Anne of Green Gables and
the Pollyanna stories.
From 1924 to 1926, Lindgren worked as a reporter for the local newspaper,
Wimmerby Tidning. She also worked off and on with the Salvation
Army, where she met with friends and sang hymns. But her youth ended
abruptly at the age of 18 when she became pregnant. Her family was
shocked. She left home and moved to Stockholm, where she became an
office worker and gave birth to her son, Lars, who was given up to a foster
home. Eventually, Lindgren's parents took him to live with them in
The author married her office manager, Sture Lindgren, in 1931. In
1940, she worked at the Swedish intelligence service, censoring letters.
In 1941, she moved to Dalagatan 26, Stockholm, where she was to live for
years. From 1946 to 1970, she was a children's book editor at Rabén &
In 1944, Lindgren sprained her ankle, and while she was
stuck in bed--and bored to death--she wrote down the Pippi Longstocking
stories she'd been telling her children for years. She wanted to give
a copy to her daughter Karin for her tenth birthday. Lindgren was so pleased
with the way the stories looked on paper that she sent it a copy to her
publisher. In 1945, Pippi Longstocking was was born.
Pippi, a nine-year-old girl with no parents, lived in a red
house at the edge of a Swedish village with her horse and her pet monkey,
Mr. Nilsson. She had red pigtails, and she wore one black stocking and
one brown, with black shoes twice as long as her feet. She ate whole
chocolate cakes and slept with her feet on her pillow. She was also
the strongest girl in the world.
The sequels to Pippi Longstocking include Pippi
Goes on Board (1946) and Pippi in the South Seas (1948).
Lindgren's Pippi books are her most popular, but she wrote more than 115
others, including detective stories, adventure stories, fantasy novels, and
realistic fiction. Her books have sold 80 million copies and have been
translated into Arabic, Armenian, Vietnamese, and even Zulu.
Lindgren received several awards for her work, including the
Lewis Carroll Shelf Award for Pippi Longstocking in 1973; the Hans
Christian Andersen Award in 1958; and the International Book Award from
UNESCO in 1993. Her publisher, Viking Press, received the Mildred
Batchelder Award for her book, Ronia, the Robber's Daughter, in 1984.
She received other recognition, including honorary doctorates from several
Her favorite character, Pippi Longstocking, has been the
star of movies as well. Columbia Pictures made the movie, New Adventures
of Pippi Longstocking, in 1988.
When someone asked Lindgren on the eve of her 94th birthday
what she wanted for a present, she replied simply, "Peace on earth and nice
Astrid Lindgren died in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2001.
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