1858 – 1940 A.D.
Selma Lagerlöf, an eminent Swedish novelist and leader of the modern romantic reaction in Sweden. She was born at the old manor of Marbacka, Vermland, her father was an army officer, while her mother came from a family of artists and clergymen.
While she was a teacher in a high school for girls, she brought out in 1891 her first book, Gösta Berling’s Saga, a modern treatment of old legends with a mystical undercurrent and an idealistic aim. Coming at a time when Sweden was weary of the pessimistic realism which had been the vogue, it was welcomed as a refreshing breath of romance and won an instantaneous popularity. This work was followed and surpassed in 1897 by Miracles of Anti-Christ, an eloquent plea for Christian socialism. A year’s travel in Egypt, Palestine, and Greece provided her with material for the second volume of her Jerusalem, and also for portions of her beautiful Christ Legends.
Commissioned in 1902 by the National Teachers’ Association of Sweden to write a school textbook which should present in story form the folklore, geographical peculiarities, and flora and fauna of the various provinces of the country, Miss Lagerlöf accomplished her task with a success that added a children’s classic to Swedish literature, the English translation of which is entitled The Wonderful Adventure of Nils (New York, 1907).
A number of other books from the pen of this gifted writer, while honors have followed her successes. In 1904 the Swedish Academy awarded her its great gold medal, and three years later she received the degree of doctor of letters from Upsala University; in 1909 she was awarded the Nobel prize for literature, and in 1914 the Swedish Academy elected her to membership – the first woman to have received this honor.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.