The Astrid Lindgren Archive

Astrid Lindgren 
Astrid Lindgren. Photograph: Roine Carlsson

In 2005, the Astrid Lindgren Archive held by the National Library of Sweden became one of the first Swedish collections inscribed as a UNESCO Memory of the World record, a list of archives and documents whose preservation has been deemed valuable to all humanity.

To the National Library by Stages

Astrid Lindgren began transferring parts of her private archives to the National Library Manuscript Division in 1980. One pressing reason was that the collection had grown to the point that she no longer had room for it at home. New material was constantly added and stored in the library’s stacks with no further action.

Over time, the National Library has received more than 50 gifts from Astrid Lindgren personally and her family. The first donation included more than thirty boxes of unsorted papers, the smallest of which was an isolated document. People outside the family have also donated materials, mainly letters from Astrid Lindgren.

The effort to organize and catalog the archive is ongoing, with funding provided by Astrid Lindgren’s heirs. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has also made past contributions to the comprehensive project.

Letters from Kids and Grownups

The letter collection is very extensive and includes letters from virtually the entire world, but mainly Sweden and Germany. About half of the estimated 50-75 000 letters were sent to the author by children. The children’s letters often contain drawings as well, sometimes from entire school classes.

In addition to out-and-out fan letters, the letters from adults include correspondence from many foreign publishers – Astrid Lindgren is our most frequently translated author and can be read in more than 90 languages. The publishers’ letters are sometimes supplemented with sales statistics for the respective countries. Other correspondents wrote to ask Lindgren to appear at various events or for permission to use her texts or fictional characters in their own work.
Only a minor portion of the letter collection comes from Lindgren’s close friends, colleagues, or family members. Some of her letters and other papers still remain in her home and new material is still being transferred to the archive.

When Lindgren entered the public debate, this naturally also resulted in abundant letter harvests. Some have been collected in special files that contain all papers pertaining to a particular issue. The debates on taxation, animal rights, and nuclear power are a few examples.

Manuscripts, Press Cuttings, and Shorthand Notebooks

Alongside the letters, the archive also contains the manuscripts of most of Lindgren’s books as well as dramatizations for stage and radio, screenplays, speeches, and articles.

Lindgren was a trained secretary and wrote all her manuscripts in shorthand before transcribing them; 650 of her shorthand notebooks have been preserved. A list with a brief description of the contents of each notebook is in being prepared.

The collection of press cutting goes all the way back to 1944, the year Lindgren debuted. The National Library still accepts current cuttings from Astrid Lindgren’s heirs. The collection is arranged in roughly chronological order. It has been estimated at 100 000 cuttings, the oldest of which are very fragile and difficult to handle.

The other material includes photographs, nearly three hundred posters (mainly from theatrical productions) and audio and video cassettes.

The archive also includes a collection of original illustrations by the Danish artist Ingrid Vang Nyman, who illustrated the Swedish edition of Pippi Longstocking.

Astrid Lindgren’s Book Collection

Astrid Lindgren had a private book collection of about 4 000 volumes in her home in Stockholm. It contains her own titles in the original language and translation, as well as books she personally acquired or was given. The book collection is registered in LIBRIS and the catalog records show whether or not the volume contains a dedication. Note that Astrid Lindgren’s personal copies cannot be requested for reading at the National Library.

Availability

The Astrid Lindgren Archive (call sign L230) was opened to researchers in January 2008, even though much of the collection is still not cataloged.

Other than the letters and shorthand notebook collections, the material is freely available to the public. Special reservations may apply to particularly fragile material.

A waiting period of 25 years applies to the letters and shorthand notebooks, after which the material will be made freely available. Applications for an exemption from the rule may be made in writing and sent to the National Library of Sweden, Manuscripts, Maps, and Pictures Division.

Virtually all of the material is protected by copyright and requires permission for reproduction. The copyright owner of texts by Astrid Lindgren and illustrations by Ingrid Vang Nyman is Saltkråkan AB

Last updated: 2016-02-09
Contact person: Katinka Ahlbom, e-mail: firstname.lastname@kb.se

Examples

Ronja script
Original script to Ronia, the Robber's daughter


Parts of the letters from Astrid Lindgrens 90-year birthday


Drawings from children


Filmscript to Mardie


Shorthand pad


Detail from original drawing

Books från our collections

National Library