Astrid Lindgren (1907–2002) was born in Vimmerby, Sweden, and grew up with three siblings on a family farm in the Småland countryside, a setting that later formed the backdrop for many of her books. In 1926 she moved to Stockholm where she found work as a secretary. She did not begin writing until 1944 when, immobilized with a sprained ankle, she began to set down the Pippi Longstocking stories she had invented over the years to entertain her daughter, Karin. Her first book (Britt-Mari Opens Her Heart
) was published by Rabén &
Sjögren that same year, followed by Pippi Longstocking
in 1945. Free-spirited and supernaturally strong in all respects, Pippi was an immediate favorite of Swedish schoolchildren, and her popularity only increased with the tales of her adventures that followed. In 1946, Lindgren became an editor and then the head of the children’s book department at Rabén &
Sjögren, a role she held for the next twenty-four years, living in Stockholm and spending summers on her beloved island of Furusund in the Stockholm archipelago. After the Pippi series, Lindgren wrote many fairy tales and picture books, in addition to further chapter books, including Seacrow Island
(1964; published by The New York Review Children’s Collection) and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter
(1981). In addition to writing more than forty children’s books, Lindgren published and produced plays and screenplays, and was politically active and lobbied successfully for what became the Animal Protection Act of 1988. She received the Swedish Academy’s Gold Medal in 1971 for her contribution to children’s literature, and the Dag Hammarskjöld Award (1984), Albert Schweitzer Medal (1989), and Right Livelihood Award (1994) for her humanitarian efforts. In 2003 the Swedish government created the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in her honor.