Though best known for her books about the mischievous and larger-than-life Pippi Longstocking, author Astrid Lindgren, born in 1907, wrote numerous other books about children and family life that were more conventional. Her writing was greatly influenced by a vividly remembered childhood on a farm called Naas in southern Sweden. Here she met a surprising variety of people whose characters later enriched both her “real” stories and her fairy tales, a number of which, as in the stories of Noisy Village, also reflect the rural serenity of Smaaland as it was when she was a child.
Astrid Lindgren showed a talent for writing early in her life but she purposely decided that she would never write a book. Nevertheless, after her marriage to Sture Lindgren in 1931, she did begin telling stories from her childhood to her two children, Lars and Karin. It was Karin, sick with pneumonia, who one day said to her mother, “Tell me about Pippi Longstocking,” and thus was born the character who became the focus of many family storytelling sessions and, later, the star of Astrid Lindgren’s first book. For after falling and spraining her ankle one winter, Mrs. Lindgren finally changed her mind about writing and set down the tales of Pippi for her daughter’s tenth birthday in 1944. This manuscript went on to win first prize in a contest and the prolific career of writing was launched.
Astrid Lindgren was honored many times in many ways during the course of her lifetime, winning the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1958, and receiving the tribute of a set of commemorative Swedish stamps designed by illustrators of her books upon her eightieth birthday.
In her acceptance speech (published in Bookbird) for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal she said, “Children work miracles when they read. They take our poor sentences and words and give them a life which in themselves they do not have. The author alone does not create all the mystical essence contained within the pages of a book. The reader must help . . . All great things that have happened in the world, happened first of all in someone’s imagination, and the aspect of the world of tomorrow depends largely on the extent of the power of imagination in those who are just now learning to read. This is why children must have books, and why there must be people. . . who really care what kind of books are put into the children’s hands.”
There are many imaginative ways of feeding a child’s imagination. We have much to be grateful for in Astrid Lindgren’s appealing portrayal of a simple rural life of another day in her Noisy Village books, as well as in her humorous and fanciful tales that so effortlessly carry children into worlds beyond their own.
Astrid Lindgren died on January 28, 2002 at the age of 94.
She is author of the book Happy Times in Noisy Village.