Snoilsky was born in Stockholm. He was educated at the Clara School and Stockholms lyceum and in 1860 became a student at the University of Uppsala. He was trained for diplomacy, which he quit for work at the Swedish Foreign Office. As early as 1861, under the pseudonym of Sven Tröst, he began to print poems, and he soon became the center of the brilliant literary society of the capital. In 1862 he published a collection of lyrics called Orchideer ("Orchids"). During 1864 and 1865 he was in Madrid and Paris on diplomatic missions. It was in 1869, when he first collected his Dikter under his own name, that Snoilsky took rank among the most eminent contemporary poets. His Sonneter in 1871 increased his reputation. Then, for some years, Snoilsky abandoned poetry, and devoted himself to the work of the Foreign Office and to the study of numismatics.
In 1876, however, he published a translation of the ballads of Goethe. Snoilsky had in 1876 been appointed keeper of the records (expeditionssekreterare) in the Foreign Office, and had succeeded Bishop Paul Genberg as one of the eighteen of the Swedish Academy. But in 1879 he resigned all his posts, and left Sweden abruptly for Florence with the Dowager Countess Ebba Piper, née Baroness Ruuth, whom he married in 1880. Count Snoilsky sent home in 1881 a volume of Nya Dikter ("New Poems"). Two other volumes of Dikter appeared in 1883 and 1887, and 1897; Savonarola, a poem, in 1883, and Hvitafrun ("The White Lady") in 1885. In 1886 he collected his poems dealing with national subjects as Svenska bilder (2nd ed., 1895), which ranks as a Swedish classic. In 1891 he returned to Stockholm and was appointed principal librarian (överbibliotekarie) of the Royal Library. He died at Stockholm on May 19, 1903.
His literary influence in Sweden was very great; he always sang of joy and liberty and beauty, and in his lyrics, more than in most modern verse, the ecstasy of youth finds expression. He is remarkable, also, for the extreme delicacy and melodiousness of his verse-forms. His Samlade dikter were collected (Stockholm, 5 vols.) in 1903–1904.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.