November 27th, 2012
Elsa Beskow, swedish writer and illustrator of more than 40 children’s books, worked her way through fairies, gnomes and flowers right to the very end of her life. Her last book produced at the age of 78, published in 1952, only one year before her death.
From a young age she would tell vivid stories and fancy fairytales to her brother Hans, who kindly helped her finding the proper words and clever plots. At the age of 7 she already knew she would write and illustrate stories when she grew up. And being such a determined young lady obviously paid off. For more than 100 years, children (and adults!) have loved and cherished the books of Elsa Beskow.
Growing up in a liberal, lively, artistic home, Elsa learned to stand up for herself and her rights, values that are often reflected in her works. For example, Blomsterfesten i täppan (The flowers’ festival) from 1914, argues for freedom of speech for everyone. Not really a common theme for children’s books in those days!
As a mother of six sons and the main provider for her large family, she certainly had her hands full. Her husband, Natanael, a doctor of theology, did not bring in much money on his academic work. Elsa described her married life as ‘every year another book and every other year a boy’.
Elsa’s maternal grandmother, Johanna, was keen on telling her young granddaughter stories and nursery rhymes, one of the favourites being The Little Old Woman. Funny enough this was also what inspired her very first children’s book, Tale of the Little, Little Old Woman, published in 1897.
For further reading we recommend:
elsabeskow.se – swedish and english, full bibliography/biography.
Floris Books – Beskow books in english, biography
Written by Liv Lingborn, 2012.