The Swedish Fairytaler
With a great deal of planning and bother, you can take the children to the zoo and show them the wolves and the bears. Once there they become enthralled by a tiny stone at the side of the road or can talk of nothing but the ladybug creeping along the bars of the wolves’ cage. You might just have stayed home in the garden – there are both stones and ladybugs there. --Elsa Beskow
Elsa grew up close to nature, in a lively home of six children. A favorite pastime was exploring her grandmother's garden, and inventing fairytales to tell her brother Hans. Tragically, her father--a gregarious, fun-loving, Norwegian prankster--died when she was fifteen. With little means to provide for the family, her mother took Elsa and her four sisters to live with their two aunts and uncle, all living in the same household. From these years she drew inspiration for her characters Aunt Lavender, Aunt Brown, Aunt Green, and Uncle Blue.
When she started illustrating for the children's magazine Jultomten in 1894, her artistic career was off to its magical start. Over the course of her life, she wrote, illustrated, and published some forty books. Her stories draw on the wonder of flowers, garden fruits and vegetables, and woodland creatures as they cross paths with fairies, trolls, and elves. All this she did while raising six rambunctious children and supporting her preacher husband's religious studies. Her son Bo later said of her,
"We children noticed very little of the enormous difficulties that my parents must have had to overcome. The very fact that two such strong personalities with diametrically opposed points of origin could meet and understand one another is a fairytale. They turned the conflicts into something positive, they learned from one another instead of working against each other. Father was colossally practical and proper, but mother could work magic. Sometimes when it was gray and cloudy, she would take a stick and stir up the clouds and say: ”Come out, sun!” and the sun came out."
View our collection of Elsa Beskow books and tableware.