Swedish Social and Ethical Writer
1849 – 1926 A.D.
Ellen Key, a Swedish social and ethical writer, of international importance. Born of a family of landed gentry and statesmen in which strains of Scottish and English blood were blended, she was educated at home and became in her twentieth year the secretary of her father, a member of the Riksdag.
From 1870 on she was a contributor to periodicals, on literary, historical, and sociological subjects. Later she became a teacher and lecturer at the Peoples’ Institute in Stockholm and from 1899 to 1910 she lived much abroad, the success of her books afterward enabling her to make a permanent country home for herself in Sweden.
An ardent feminist, with views of love and marriage that startle the conventional, and with convictions on the sex relations that condemn at certain points old moral standards, she was exposed to unwarranted slander and abuse, which was offset by the admiration of eminent thinkers. Her works have been translated into many languages; those which have appeared in English include: The Education of the Child, Love and Marriage, The Woman Movement, The Resistance of Motherhood, and the Younger Generation.
The Danish critic, George Brandes said:
“Ellen Key has influenced women as no one else. She has known her sex. Women have felt themselves understood by her. She has widened their views, overcome their prejudices, liberated their thoughts, awakened their courage to live. Though caring little for the external forms of morality, she yet lives and breathes the highest and purest moral atmosphere. She is and remains a brave and noble priestess of high personal culture.”
The philosopher and dramatist, Maurice Maeterlinck, speaks of her as “the good, the noble, the heroic, Ellen Key – the great liberator who, in our children, will find more enlightened, more enthusiastic and trusty followers.”
And Vitalis Norström, professor of philosophy, one of Sweden’s most profound thinkers, paid her this tribute:
“When purging Time has passed over her works, there will remain that which will place Ellen Key among the signs foreboding the new day, the day which she herself had divined and dreamt [sic], but which will be far better than her own prophetic vision.”
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.