Elsa Beskow

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Elsa Beskow
Elsa Beskow - from Svenskt Portrattgalleri XX.png
Elsa Beskow in 1901
BornElsa Maartman
(1874-02-11)February 11, 1874
Stockholm, Sweden
DiedJune 30, 1953(1953-06-30) (aged 79)
Stockholm, Sweden
Language Swedish
Nationality Sweden
Education Anna Whitlock's school
Genre Children's literature
Notable worksAunt Green, Aunt Brown and Aunt Lavender
Spouse Natanael Beskow
Relatives Elisabeth Beskow husband's cousin

Elsa Beskow (néeMaartman) (11 February 1874 30 June 1953) was a Swedish author and illustrator of children's books. Among her better known books are Tale of the Little Little Old Woman and Aunt Green, Aunt Brown and Aunt Lavender. [1]

Swedes are a North Germanic ethnic group native to Sweden. They mostly inhabit Sweden and the other Nordic countries, in particular Finland, with a substantial diaspora in other countries, especially the United States. Swedes are an officially recognized minority in Finland and Estonia.

Childrens literature stories, books, and poems that are enjoyed by and targeted primarily towards children

Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are enjoyed by children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader.



Born in Stockholm her parents were businessman Bernt Maartman (1841–1889), whose family came from Bergen, Norway, and Augusta Fahlstedt (1850–1915). Beskow studied Art Education at Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, then called Tekniska skolan, or the Technical school, in Stockholm. [2]

Stockholm Capital of Sweden

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous urban area in the Nordic countries; 965,232 people live in the municipality, approximately 1.6 million in the urban area, and 2.4 million in the metropolitan area. The city stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Outside the city to the east, and along the coast, is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the county seat of Stockholm County.

Bergen City and municipality in Western Norway

Bergen, historically Bjørgvin, is a city and municipality in Hordaland on the west coast of Norway. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, the municipality's population was 280,216, and the Bergen metropolitan region has about 420,000 inhabitants. Bergen is the second-largest city in Norway. The municipality covers 465 square kilometres (180 sq mi) and is on the peninsula of Bergenshalvøyen. The city centre and northern neighbourhoods are on Byfjorden, 'the city fjord', and the city is surrounded by mountains; Bergen is known as the 'city of seven mountains'. Many of the extra-municipal suburbs are on islands. Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland, and consists of eight boroughs: Arna, Bergenhus, Fana, Fyllingsdalen, Laksevåg, Ytrebygda, Årstad, and Åsane.

Konstfack art college in Stockholm, Sweden

Konstfack, or University of Arts, Crafts and Design, is a university college for higher education in the area of art, crafts and design in Stockholm, Sweden.

She married former minister and social worker, doctor of theology Natanael Beskow in 1897. Elsa Beskow met her future husband at Djursholms samskola while serving as a teacher where he served as head master. From 1900 they lived in Villa Ekeliden in Djursholm which had initially been built for the author Viktor Rydberg. They had six sons, including the artist Bo Beskow (1906–1989) and geologist Gunnar Beskow (1901–1991).

Natanael Beskow Swedish theologian

Fredrik Natanael Beskow was a Swedish theologian and school headmaster. He was also active as a preacher, writer, artist, pacifist and social activist. Beskow published a number of collections of sermons. He also made substantial contributions as a hymn writer.

Djursholms samskola

Djursholms Samskola is the traditional name of a middle school in Djursholm, Sweden. The official name of the school today is Viktor Rydbergs Samskola.

Viktor Rydberg Swedish writer

Abraham Viktor Rydberg was a Swedish writer and a member of the Swedish Academy, 1877–1895. "Primarily a classical idealist", Viktor Rydberg has been described as "Sweden's last Romantic" and by 1859 was "generally regarded in the first rank of Swedish novelists."


In 1894 Beskow started to contribute to the children's magazine Jultomten. Overall, she would publish some forty books with her own text and images. Beskow frequently combined reality with elements from the fairy tale world. Children meet elves or goblins, and farm animals talk with people. Central themes were the relationships between children and adults and children's independent initiative.

Beskow became one of the most well known of all Swedish children's book artists. Many of her books became classics and are continually reprinted. [3] Beskow also illustrated ABC books and songbooks for Swedish schools. Her book pages are often framed by decorative framework of the Art Nouveau style. [4]

Art Nouveau Style of art and architecture about 1890 to 1911

Art Nouveau is an international style of art, architecture and applied art, especially the decorative arts, known in different languages by different names: Jugendstil in German, Stile Liberty in Italian, Modernisme in Catalan, etc. In English it is also known as the Modern Style. The style was most popular between 1890 and 1910. It was a reaction against the academic art, eclecticism and historicism of 19th century architecture and decoration. It was often inspired by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers. Other characteristics of Art Nouveau were a sense of dynamism and movement, often given by asymmetry or "whiplash" curves, and the use of modern materials, particularly iron, glass, ceramics and later concrete, to create unusual forms and larger open spaces.

Beskow has accomplished many goals during her years such as "[receiving]international recognition for simple, cheerful stories and outstanding ILLUSTRATIONS. Her work combined realism and FANTASY in both her stories and pictures, which depicted a happy home atmosphere in the Swedish countryside of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries." [5]


Illustrated poem about trees in winter (early 1900s, Nationalmuseum Stockholm.) Elsa Beskow - Sov du lilla videung, an sa ar det vinter... - Google Art Project.jpg
Illustrated poem about trees in winter (early 1900s, Nationalmuseum Stockholm.)

Sof du lilla vide ung,
än så är det vinter.
Än så sofva björk och ljung
ros och hyacinter.
Än så är det långt till vår,
innan rönn i blomning står.
Sof du lilla vide,
än så är det vinter.


The Elsa Beskow Award was created in 1958 to recognize the year's best Swedish picture book illustrator. [6]

Selected works

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  1. Hammar, Stina Solägget: fantasi och verklighet Elsa Beskows konst (Bonnier, Stockholm 2002) ISBN   91-0-057914-9
  2. Björkman, Ivar; Djursholm – staden på landet (Djursholms Forntid och Framtid, 1982) ISBN /91-85549-00-2
  3. Ahlgren, Stig (1977). Insnöad: Läsning i blandade ämnen. Ystad: Rabén & Sjögren. p. 138. ISBN   9789129479195.
  4. Liukkonen, Petri. "Elsa Beskow". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 27 July 2010.
  5. "Elsa Beskow". Credo.
  6. Anita Silvey (1995). Children's Books and Their Creators. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 59–. ISBN   0-395-65380-0.