What is it that makes Astrid Lindgren ever popular? The simple answer is of course – her books and films! This year, for example, Pippi Longstocking celebrates seventy years, and we are of course celebrating that. Japan's biggest TV channel is rolling out a new animated manga version of Ronja the Robber's Daughter, and here in Sweden a brand new book of previously unpublished texts by Astrid Lindgren is coming out. Read this interesting article about Astrid Lindgren on our homepage.
The books, stories and films live on and continue to attract new readers and viewers – quite simply because they are so good.But there is more to Astrid Lindgren. It has to do with her as a person, her life story and her clear stand on a range of issues.
This summer, the exhibition ‘Hela världen brinner!’ (The whole world is on fire) opens at Astrid Lindgren’s Näs in Vimmerby, the place where Astrid was born and grew up. The exhibition is based on Astrid Lindgren’s war diaries and the Second World War in Sweden and poses the question: who dares to take a stand today as Astrid did then?
At the end of last year, a new big biography was published about Astrid Lindgren, first in Denmark and then in Sweden, and this year also in Norway and Germany. The author Jens Andersen writes about Astrid’s life, her anguish and difficulties as well as joyful subjects and the bases of her fantastic storytelling.
In the end, it is Astrid Lindgren the person that we meet, also in her own books. And the way she sees the world, people and nature has had a greater impact on our time and society than we may realise.
Astrid was a spirited woman who fought for the rights of children and animals, for nature, culture and reading, for justice and peace and for non-violence. Astrid is still admired and loved for that. That is of course why she has her portrait on the new 20 krona note, the most common and child-friendly of all the notes! The note will be released in October this year.
A few months before, on Friday 8 May, seventy years after the end of the Second World War, a new book by Astrid Lindgren will be published: Krigsdagböcker 1939-1945 (War diaries 1939-1945). It is a unique event. In the diaries, which have not been published before, Astrid describes her everyday life in Stockholm, what is happening in the world and Sweden’s part in the war. It is a very personal portrayal of how dramatic world events affect us all, and the texts are filled with sorrow and horror. The diaries give a warm and vivid insight into Astrid Lindgren’s life in the years before she broke through as a world-famous author.
Moreover, many have probably noticed that the Astrid year started already last year. Over the Christmas and New Year holiday, Sveriges Television (the Swedish public service broadcaster, SVT) aired its big documentary venture ‘Astrid’ in three hour-long instalments at peak viewing time, but there had in fact been an exclusive sneak preview of the film in Vimmerby already before Lucia Day (13 December).
“It seemed only natural that the Vimmerby inhabitants should be the first to see it. Everything did, after all, start in Vimmerby. And the old film from Vimmerby in 1920 plays an important role in my documentary,” says the film’s producer Kristina Lindström at SVT.
Further films, in cinema format, are on the way. The script is ready and waiting for the big film The Brothers Lionheart, which is planned for this year. Planning is also under way for a Danish feature film that is said to be about Astrid Lindgren as a young woman.
And so it continues – Astrid Lindgren is ever popular, and Astrid and her stories are forever in our hearts.
Text: Kjell Åke Hansson, VD Astrid Lindgrens Näs (2015)