Barbro Lindgren was born as Barbro Enskog on 18 March 1937 in Bromma, outside Stockholm. She is an author who writes creative and multilayered works for children of all ages. Barbro has a wide repertoire that includes picture books, poetry, play scripts, and books for young adults. Since her début in 1965, she has published more than 100 titles, which have been translated into around 30 languages.
Speaks directly to children
Barbro Lindgren’s stories are often humorous, and she always speaks directly to children in her own uniquely warm tone. Her hand is just as safe when describing fun and mischief as when dealing with serious questions. She has a special ability to remember and describe what it’s like to be a child, and her apparently simple style reproduces atmosphere and emotions that everyone – no matter what their age – can recognise.
Barbro studied art at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Craft and Design, in 1958 and at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in 1959. She has also worked in advertising. She has illustrated several of her books herself, including her début book Mattias’ Summer (1965) and the story of Loranga, Masarin and Dartanjang (1969). With her book The Story of the Little Old Man (1979), Barbro Lindgren started a long collaboration with illustrator Eva Eriksson. Their greatest success is the series of Max books, a new type of book for very young children about everyday adventures in the life of a child. Her story The Wild Baby (1980) shows a baby having a far from everyday adventure.
Many well-known characters
The Wild Baby, Max, Sparvel, Loranga, Benny and Rosa – these are just some of the characters we meet in Barbro Lindgren’s children’s books. As the years have passed, they have reached celebrity status, and are just as popular as the characters created by Astrid Lindgren. And Barbro Lindgren’s own fame has grown, not only in Sweden but also abroad.
Affinity with Astrid
The links between Barbro and Astrid Lindgren are strong. Barbro has acknowledged in interviews how large her debt is to Astrid, and described how Astrid taught her to write.
“When I was 13, I sent a story to the publishing house where Astrid Lindgren was working. She wrote me a very nice letter when she returned the manuscript. Several years later, around 1963, I tried again, one last time, and sent her a description of childhood, a few chapters long. She answered again, and gave me lots of advice about how to write. It’s because of Astrid that I decided to keep on writing.”
Barbro says that Astrid gave her extremely good advice about not putting too much action onto each page, and not introducing too many characters. This advice was useful when Barbro was writing her first book, Mattias’ Summer, published in 1965 by the same publisher as Astrid – Rabén & Sjögren.
“She kept her eye on me through the years and was a great help. There’s so much that I owe to Astrid Lindgren.”
Not just children’s books
Barbro Lindgren is most well-known for her children’s books, but her work spans several genres and targets several age groups. Barbro has written many books for adults, and these have taken an ever-greater place in her work in recent years, although they have not received as much attention and reviews in the media as her children’s books.
She has written, among other things, the first picture book for adults, Titta Max grav! (“Look, Max’ Grave”), published in 1991. The book describes how Max grows up, gets a job in a bank, gets married and has children. He lives a perfectly ordinary life, until death finally catches up with him.
The prestigious ALMA prize, 2014
Barbro Lindgren made history in 2014, when she was the first Swedish author to be awarded the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, or ALMA prize. The jury’s grounds:
“Barbro Lindgren is a literary pioneer. With linguistic audacity and psychological insight she has brought new life not only to picture books for the very young but also to depiction of the ridiculous, existential children’s poetry, and realistic descriptions of young adults. With total control, she brings us not only light-hearted moments of happiness and playful mischief, but also the mystery of life and the nearness of death.”
Podcasts, radio and TV
Barbro has participated in several podcasts, TV and radio programmes, in which she talks about everything from her writing, love and freedom, to matters of life and death.
"What you write for children, it must be even better than what you write for adults, if it’s going to be really good. My books are brought to life at Junibacken and visitors can experience them in a completely new form.”"