“As long as I can remember my siblings and I, as almost all children, enjoyed drawing very much. I was only six years old when I made up my mind, I was going to learn how to draw when I grew up. There was nothing I wanted more than to draw pictures for story books and fairytales.” – Elsa Beskow
Elsa Beskow (1874-1953) is undoubtedly the central figure in what is often called the first golden age of Sweden’s children literature. Her picture books contain idyll, security, fairy tales and play. Nature always plays an active role in her stories where flowers, trees, mountains and pine cones are brought to life. She allowed garden flowers and kitchen greens to invite us to join their party, and she populated the great forest with gnomes, trolls and fairies. The wild flowers and animals, all of nature’s real and unreal beings, were all Elsa Beskow’s allies.
Elsa’s children’s book debut came in 1897 with the picture book The tale of the little, little old woman, a classic story many children read even today. Elsa Beskow made her big breakthrough with Peter in Blueberry land published in 1901. Her images dominated children’s book art for almost 50 years and many of today’s children’s book artists have certainly been influenced by Elsa’s art. Elsa Beskow wrote and illustrated over 40 books and it is said that she introduced the Swedish children’s book abroad. Her books have been translated into 25 languages.