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Selma Lagerlöf Edit Profile

also known as Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf


S. Lagerlöf is a swedish writer, best known for her books for children.


Ethnicity: Lagerlöf was the daughter of retired Lieutenant Erik Gustaf Lagerlöf and the teacher Louise Lagerlöf née Wallroth.

Selma Lagerlöf was born with an inherent hip injury. This early sickness left her lame in both legs. At the age of three the future writer was seriously ill. She was paralyzed and bed-ridden. Her only entertainment during that time was listening to the fairytales, local legends and family chronicles, which were told by her grandmother and aunt Nana. Selma moved to Stockholm in 1867 for medical treatment, and then she got the ability to move. The sale of Mårbacka, the family estate where she was born and raised, which followed her father’s illness in 1884 had influence on her development.


Through her studies at the Royal Academy in Stockholm, Lagerlöf reacted against the realism of contemporary Swedish language writers such as August Strindberg.


Working as a teacher in Landskrona Selma started to write her first novel – “Gösta Berling's Saga”. Owing to the financial aid from her lifelong friend Baroness Sophie Aldesparre, Lagerlöf completed her first novel. The book sold poorly until a critic Georg Brandes wrote a positive review of the Danish translation in 1893 . Selma refused to follow realism in literature and dedicated herself to fantasy and imaginary world full of romance and bright

adventures. The majority of stories are based on Värmland's legends.

By 1895, she gave up her teaching career in order to dedicate herself to writing. During the following period she continued to write in fantasy manner, publishing works based mainly on folklore and legends.

In 1895-1896 she visited Italy, country in which the action of her novel "Antikrists mirakler (The Miracles of the Antichrist)" takes place. Set in Sicily, the novel explores the interaction between Christian and socialist moral systems. However, most of Lagerlöf's stories were set in Värmland. Lagerlöf's visit to the American

Colony in Jerusalem in 1900 inspired her to write a book with the same title.

In1897 Selma moved to Falun. She was active as a speaker for the Country Association for Women's Suffrage, which was really beneficial for the organisation.

In 1919 Lagerlöf sold all the movie rights to all of her as-yet unpublished works to Swedish Cinema Theatre (Swedish: Svenska Biografteatern). Consequently over the years many of her works were screened."The Wonderful Adventures of Nils" is considred to be one of the most popular books by Lagerlöf. Originally the idea was to tell children about Sweden and provide them with some geographical information in a captivating form. It is written in the style of democratic pedagogy.


  • Submitted the first chapters of "Gösta Berling's Saga" to a literary contest, sponsored by the magazine Idun, and won a publishing contract for the whole book.


  • Memoir

    • Marbacka: The Story of a Manor (1922)

    • Memories of My Childhood: Further Years at Mårbacka (1930)

    • The Diary of Selma Lagerlöf(1932)

  • biography

    • Zachris Topelius utveckling och mognad

  • book

    • Från skilda tider: Efterlämnade skrifter (1943–45)

    • Dockteaterspel (1959)

    • Madame de Castro: En unglomsdikt (1984)

  • collection of short stories

    • Osynliga länkar (1894, Invisible Links)

    • The Queens of Kungahälla and Other Sketches From a Swedish Homestead (Drottningar i Kungahälla (1899)

  • non-fiction

    • Home and State: Being an Address Delivered at Stockholm at the Sixth Convention of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance

  • novel

    • Gösta Berlings saga (The Story of Gösta Berling), 1891

    • The Miracles of Antichrist (Antikrists mirakler (1897))

    • Jerusalem(Jerusalem : två berättelser. 1, I Dalarne (1901)

    • The Holy City : Jerusalem The second(erusalem : två berättelser. 2, I det heliga landet (1902))

    • Herr Arne's Hoard(1903)

    • The Wonderful Adventures of Nils(1906-7)

    • Liliecrona's Home (1911)

    • Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness!(1912)

    • The Emperor of Portugallia (1914)

    • The Changeling

    • The Outcast (1918)

    • The Ring trilogy(1925-1928)

    • Gösta Berlings saga: Skådespel i frya akter med prolog och epilog effer romanen med samma namn (1936)

  • short stories

    • The Tale of a Manor and Other Sketches (En herrgårdssägen (1899)

    • Christ Legends and Other Stories(1904)

    • The Girl from the Marsh Croft (1908)

    • Harvest(1933)

  • story

    • Julberättelser (1936)


Selma didn't belong to any political party and she stressed intentionally that she is detached from politics. However, she supported women's rights movement and affiliated with the position of bourgeois pacifism.


  • Writers

    Hans Christian Andersen, Thomas Mayne Reid, Walter Scott, Esaias Tegnér, Carl Michael Bellman.

    Herman Hofberg, Charles Perrault, Eva Vigström.

  • Other Interests

    Travellings across Sweden, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Middle East, England, Russia, Denmark.

    Visited Stockholm Theater.


friend and companion:
Sophie Elkan


literary assistant, friend:
Valborg Olander

Swedish teacher, politician and suffragette

Alfred Dalin

National Teachers Association