Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) was born on a farm in Värmland, trained as a teacher and became, in her life-time, Sweden’s most widely translated author ever. Novels such as Gösta Berlings saga (1891; Gösta Berling’s Saga ) and Jerusalem (1901-02) helped regenerate Swedish literature, and the school textbook about Nils Holgersson who traverses Sweden on the back of a goose has become familiar the world over. Two very different trilogies, the Löwensköld trilogy (1925-28) and the Mårbacka trilogy (1922-32), the latter often taken to be autobiographical, give some idea of the range and power of Lagerlöf’s writing. Several of her texts inspired innovative films, among them Herr Arnes pengar ( Sir Arne’s Treasure ), directed by Mauritz Stiller (1919) and based on Herr Arnes penningar (1903; Lord Arne’s Silver ), and Körkarlen ( The Phantom Carriage ), directed by Victor Sjöström (1921) and based on Lagerlöf’s Körkarlen (1912). She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, as the first woman ever, in 1909, and elected to the Swedish Academy, again as the first woman, in 1914. Having been able to buy back the farm of Mårbacka, which her family had lost as the result of bankruptcy, Lagerlöf spent the last three decades of her life combining her writing with the responsibilities for running a sizeable estate. Her work has been translated into close to 50 languages.
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