Wilhelmina Elisabeth Nordström

1815 - 1902


Wilhelmina Elisabeth Nordström used the pseudonyms W.N-m and W-aN-a, was born in Pyhtää in southern Finland, and pursued a career both as a schoolmistress for girls and as a poet, her pupils calling her Domkirken (the cathedral). She never married. She grew up in a vicarage, attended two different German-speaking girls’ schools, one of which was on the Karelian Isthmus, and worked for twenty-five years after her father’s death as a governess in various families.

In 1858 she founded a private girls’ school, first in central Finland, then in Borgå. She educated herself further on study travels to Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. For fifteen years she was principal of the school she established, and here she taught foreign languages. In addition to her teaching, Wilhelmina Nordström published poems and short stories in literary almanacs and the poetry collection Dikter, 1861. J. L. Runeberg sent the collection to his publisher friend A. Bohlin in Örebro, who published a new, extended edition in 1864.

Wihelmina Nordström, together with her friend Fredrika Runeberg, was actively involved in the work of various women’s associations. Outspoken as she was, she sometimes had difficulty understanding Fredrika Runeberg’s status as the wife of a national poet. Recognition for Wilhelmina Nordström’s poetry has grown over the last decades.