If you were to read a typical biography of Astrid Lindgren it would say when she was born, when she died, and how in the years in between she became one of the top writers in the world starting with her Pippi Longstocking books. (Read more about Pippi below.)
But there is oh so much more to Astrid Lindgren and on November 23 you can see the biopic movie “Becoming Astrid” and the tells the story of her character-forming young life and how it influenced her writing.
Born on the 14th of November 1907 on a farm outside Vimmerby, in the county of Småland, Astrid was a smart, irreverent farm girl, the oldest daughter of a hardworking, church-worshiping family. But she’s a free-thinker and is constantly questioning what she says as hypocrisy. Many things that happened in her life led to Lindgren becoming a world renowned author. The movie focuses on those years that created the woman who became one of the best selling authors in the world.
The movie, which drew enthusiastic applause and a lot of tears at a press preview, introduces Astrid as a teenager living on her family’s farm in a close-knit but judgemental tiny community.
Taken with her writing talent and independent streak, the editor, Blomberg, offers her a job but quickly falls in love with her and they begin a discreet affair.
When she becomes pregnant, Blomberg insists he wants to marry her, but his wife refuses to give him a divorce and threatens to press adultery charges.
Meanwhile the parents’ land in the southern province of Smaland belongs to the Protestant church, leading them to fear they could be cast out if Astrid’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy comes to light.
She flees to Copenhagen to give birth to her son, Lasse, in secrecy, and then bids a painful goodbye to him as she leaves him with a Danish foster mother, Marie.
The separation is agonising for Astrid, and although she makes frequent visits, the toddler calls Marie “Mama” when he begins to speak.
But when Marie falls ill, Astrid has to take custody of three-year-old Lasse as a single mother struggling to get by in Stockholm on a secretary’s salary.
After Lasse contracts whooping cough while Astrid is trying to juggle motherhood and her full-time job, the film imagines that she begins to invent fanciful tales to comfort him.
The bedtime stories, telling of people who only drink soda and say “good morning” to each other all day long, form the foundation of the massive body of work about Pippi, among the most translated books in children’s literature.
The movie does have it’s share of controversy with regard to its accuracy. Lindgren’s daughter, Karin Nyman, says that she actually invented the name Pippi Longstrocking and that the stories were made up by Lindgren because she was home ill and Nyman begged for stories because she was bored. You can read Nyman’s story about her mother here.
The movie opens November 23rd in Minneapolis at the Landmark Theater. The official movie website has more information about the movie and where it is playing. You can find out more about Lindgren at her official website.
We Love Pippi
Let’s start with her whole name. The original Swedish language books set Pippi’s full name as Pippilotta Viktualia Rullgardina Krusmynta Efraimsdotter Långstrump, which contains some words that cannot be translated directly. English books and films about have given her name in the following forms (the first one listed being the most popular):
- Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraim’s Daughter Longstocking
- Pippilotta Rollgardinia Victualia Peppermint Longstocking
- Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraimsdotter Longstocking
- Pippilotta Provisionia Gaberdina Dandeliona Ephraimsdaughter Longstocking
Pippi is not like other children. First, she lives all by herself in a house called Villakulla Cottage. Well actually, she lives with her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, and her horse. Her two best friends are the neighbors Annika and Tommy, who sometimes come over to play. Because Pippi is not only strong and independent, she also a great friend, and always up for some fun!
And Pippi doesn’t live by anyone’s rules but her own, and she’s perfectly fine with being a little different. For instance, instead of asking for anything on her birthday, she gives her friends presents, and she often sticks bullies and rude policemen in trees. She just never does things as expected. And that’s why we love her.
And finally, a little Pippi trivia. Swedish author Stieg Larsson, in writing his Millennium series (“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), stated that one of the main characters in the three novels, Lisbeth Salander, was fashioned on a grown-up Pippi Longstocking. In the only interview he ever did about the series, Larsson stated that he based the character on what he imagined Pippi Longstocking might have been like as an adult.
Lindgren wrote other books including two of our favorite during this holiday season because they feature the beloved Tomten.
Visit our website or stop in the store to find Pippi and friends.
Want to know more about Lindgren? You can read about the Astrid Lindgren museum here.