Anne Charlotte Leffler

1849 - 1892


Anne Charlotte Leffler was a trendsetter and her home a place of gathering for the literary circles of Stockholm and the radical group of writers and artists known as Unga Sverige (Young Sweden). She was born and grew up in Stockholm, where her father was a principal. In 1872 she married the judge Gustav Edgren, and a year after her divorce in 1889, she married the professor Duke Pasquale del Pezzo di Cajanello. In 1885, she became one of the first women ever to be elected to the group Publicistklubben (Publicists’ club). She was also a member of Drägtereformföreningen (The Association for the Reformed Dress ) and Nya Idun (a women’s debate forum), but did not belong to the organised women’s movement.

She made her debut in 1861 under the pseudonym Carlot with three short stories in Händelsevis. Success came with her short story collection Ur lifvet I-III, 1882-1893, written under her own name; it is a social critique advocating women’s emancipation, in which she reveals aspects of fashionable, superficial society life in Stockholm and examines female sexuality and self-realisation. Her active commitment to women’s emancipation is also expressed in her play Sanna kvinnor (1883; Eng. tr. True Women), with its powerful defence of married women’s right of ownership. She later wrote the novel Sommersaga I-II, 1886, about problems encountered by female artists, and in 1890 she published the partly autobiographical Kvinnlighet och erotic (1890; Eng. tr. Womanhood and Eroticism) an attempt to create a truth about erotic love unhampered by conventional considerations.

Further Reading

Lynn R Wilkinson: "Feminism, modernism and the morality debate: Anne Charlotte Leffler's "Tre komedier"" in: Scandinavian Studies, 2004