MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History

WARTIME DIARIST

In 1939 a 32-year-old secretary, mother, and aspiring author living in Stockholm with her family began keeping personal journals, augmented with pasted-in newspaper clippings, that she would maintain through the end of World War II. Her name was Astrid Lindgren, and amid the convulsive tensions of the war the fearless, freedom-loving character of Pippi Longstocking—who would come to be adored by children the world over—emerged. Lindgren’s diaries, stored for decades under a wicker laundry basket in her home in Sweden, chronicle the daily realities and horrors of the war and the maturation of one of the world’s most beloved writers.

‘The British are finally starting to realize it’s a matter of life and death.’

Lindgren’s books have been translated into 97 languages and have sold some 150 million copies worldwide. Following her death in 2002, the Swedish government instituted the world’s largest monetary award for children’s literature in her memory.

Lindgren’s diaries, posthumously published in Sweden to international acclaim, were recently translated into English. The following entries, excerpted from the 17 slim volumes Lindgren filled over seven years, trace her attempts to make sense of a horrific conflict.

1939

. Oh! War broke out today.

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