Published diaries unlock secrets. When a novelist’s diaries see the light of day, that exposed self helps us reassess reputations and reappraise literary work. It allows us to determine just how much of the author’s life informed art and what degree of fact was in the fiction. To this end, the diary is not just a useful accompaniment, it is a valuable supplement.
All the more valuable when the diary is discovered out of the blue, and years after its owner wrote the last entry. In 2013, 17 leather-bound diaries belonging to Astrid Lindgren were found in a wicker laundry basket at the author’s Stockholm address. Lindgren, who died in 2002, is the third most translated writer for children (after Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm). Her most famous literary creation, the super-strong and headstrong Pippi Longstocking, made her debut in 1945. But before Lindgren wrote her first book, she avidly filled up diaries, which followed the jagged course of the Second World War. Published last year to great acclaim in Sweden and Germany, Lindgren’s diaries now appear for the first time in English. Read more