In texts by female authors, work can often be combined with love and marriage, no matter whether the woman chooses regular paid employment or whether she, as is more frequently the case, becomes her husband’s partner or colleague. If, on the other hand, the woman chooses an artistic profession, the difficulties immediately begin to mount.“Female authors and artists are whores”, August Strindberg wrote in a letter to Ola Hansson. When the woman leaves her sheltered position in the home and steps out into the public sphere to sell her product, and thereby also herself, to an anonymous and paying audience, she is looked upon as being everybody’s woman, a prostitute.The conflict between love and art, between duty and calling, and between everyday life and life as an artist is a theme that recurs, with variations, in the works of the female authors of the 1880s, and one that is often presented on the backdrop of the stage and with an actress or a female singer as the main character.
The Modern Breakthrough in Sweden
If nineteenth-century women could not become pastors and if they could not without conflict devote themselves to intellectual work, the closest they could come to the pulpit was by way of writing hymns. Lina Sandell called herself “a good scribe’s pen”, an expression that combines lack of pretence with high self-esteem. The hymn-books of the free-church communities came to be, and still are, totally dominated by Lina Sandell, beginning with the first edition of Pilgrimsharpan (1861; The Pilgrim’s Harp).In order to create a female tradition, the female Christian writers were looking for models among the figures of the Bible. Together with Charlotte af Tibell, Lina Sandell wrote the book Bibelns qvinnor (The Women of the Bible), and Betty Ehrenborg-Posse chose the Bible’s Deborah, Miriam, and the four daughters of Philip the Evangelist as her models. These learned and poetical women, she thought, had been authorised by God to write spiritual songs, even though some might consider this task to pertain exclusively to the clergy. But the position she obtained offered more room for her preaching than she would ever have had as a pastor.