Catharina Ahlgren

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Catharina Ahlgren
Born Catharina Ahlgren
1734
Sweden
Died 1800
unknown, likely Finland
Nationality Sweden
Other names Catharina Bark, Catharina Eckerman
Occupation writer, poet, translator, managing editor, journalist.
Known for feminist and writer

Catharina Ahlgren (1734 – c. 1800) was a Swedish feminist writer, poet, translator, managing editor, and one of the first identifiable female journalists in Sweden. She is also known for her correspondence with Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht.[1] Ahlgren was a leading person in the "Female literary world of the 1750s and 1770s" in Sweden.[2] She later emigrated to Finland, where she published the first Finnish paper in the country.[3]

Early life[edit]

Catharina Ahlgren was born the child of Anders Ahlgren, governor of Östergötland, and by her sister the sister-in-law of Johan Halldin, an official of the Royal library[4] She was at one point a chamber lady in the court of the queen, Louisa Ulrika of Prussia, but lost her position because of some kind of intrigue[5]

Ahlgren married and had children but was divorced. It was after her first divorce that she began her career as a self-supporting woman in the literary world.

Career[edit]

Social context[edit]

During the Age of Liberty in Sweden between 1718 and 1771, several papers were published that were written for and by women. They were publications typical of the Age of Enlightenment, and they discussed recent events and news, politics, philosophy and the position of women and gender equality, which presaged first-wave feminism in the English-speaking world. These papers were sometimes pamphlets, and often written in the form of letters between two female correspondents. They were often temporary, published during one year, and quickly replaced by new ones the next, possibly by the same writers, under a new name and new signatures. These papers became common during the 1730s and were very common in the last years of the Age of Liberty.

One of these publications was, for example, the paper De nymodiga fruntimren (In English: "The Modern Women"), which was written by the signatures Belisinde and Sophie and published during the year of 1773.

Literary women were viewed as fashionable. A male editor stated during a publication of a female poet: "As we wish for nothing higher than to encourage the knowledge among us, it cannot be anything other than pleasant that a member of the gender so admirably support our intention." With the word gender, he actually meant women.

These writers were Sweden's first female journalists, but since they all wrote under pseudonyms, mostly French names, in most cases they cannot be identified[6] In 1738, the paper Samtal emellan Argus skugga och en obekant fruntimmers skugga nyligen anländ till Dödens rike ("A talk between Argus' shadow and the unknown shadow of a woman newly arrived to the kingdom of Death") was published, written as a debate between a male ("Argus' shadow") and a female journalist ("The shadow of a woman"). This was a radical paper where the writers were critical of religious repression and censorship, obedience to authority, and issues of war and peace, morality, and independence[7] The paper was censored several times by the authorities[8] The female writer is believed to be Margareta von Bragner-Momma, and she satirizes the letters from some readers who criticize the thought of a woman discussing philosophy[9] In 1755–1756, Henrika Juliana von Liewen is believed to have contributed to the paper En ärlig swensk ("An Honest Swede").

One of the few of these anonymous female journalists that have been clearly identified is Catharina Ahlgren.

Translator and poet[edit]

Ahlgren began her career as a self-supporting woman in the literary world after her first divorce in 1753. She was first active as a translator of both novels and poetry. Among her translations was the German poem Die Prüfung Abrahams by Christoph Martin Wieland (1753), and the English novel The Distressed Wife, or the history of Eliza Wyndham.

Ahlgren was active as a poet and presented the queen, Louisa Ulrika of Prussia, with her own poem at the queen's birthday in 1764, which was her debut as a poet. She was also a friend and correspondent of the poet Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht.

Writer[edit]

Ahlgren participated under the signature Adelaide in the paper "Brefwäxling emellan twänne fruntimmer" ("A Correspondence between two women") which were published in sixty-eight numbers from 1772 to 1773. She was also this paper's editor. This was a feminist publication in which she argued in favor of a social conscience, democracy and gender equality, and recommended solidarity between women as a protection against male guardianship and superiority.[10] She states that the only way to reach true love within a relationship is to be equals, adding that as men so often want to rule over women, it is much harder to retain friendship with them than with another woman.[11] She discussed love and friendship, uppbringing, the king and the monarchy and religion[12]

In the correspondence-debate in her paper, she wrote 1772:

"Even though I have just sent my letter, I still write anew until the post leaves. My only consolation Is my feather. Of all artists I praise the inventor of the art of writing the most"

[13] (By feather she meant her pen: feather-pen)

She also published Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht; Nordenflycht wrote under the name "A shepherdess of the North", while Catharina Ahlgren wrote under the name "The shepherdess in Ahl-Lunden".[14] In 1773 she published "Brefväxling mellan Adelaide och några vittra snillen".[15]

Ahlgren also managed a Printing press for a period.[16]

Publisher and editor[edit]

Ahlgren appears to have left Sweden in 1775. In 1782, she was listed as a resident in Åbo in Finland, where she is considered to have been the publisher and managing editor behind the papers Om att rätt behaga ("Of the Art of Pleasing") in 1782, and Angenäma Sjelwswåld ("Pleasant Defyings") in 1783. These papers belonged to the first publications in Finland, and the former was, in fact, the first Finnish paper in Finland[17]

She finished the publication Om konsten at rätt behaga officially because of health reasons. In her farewell she wrote: "You may see, gentlemen, how much I wished to copy you"[18] The year after, she published another paper.

Personal life[edit]

Ahlgren was married and divorced twice. Her first marriage was with Bengt Edvard Eckerman, cavalry master of the royal Scanian Husars. She married secondly with a printing press journeyman by the name of Bark (or Barck), whom she also divorced.[19]

Four of her children are known. She had two sons, Bengt Gustaf and Christopher, and two daughters, Charlotte (Charlotta Beata) and Julie (Juliana Catharina) during her first marriage: Charlotte Eckerman (1756–1790) became a singer and Julie Eckerman (1765–1801), who was a courtesan, became the mistress of count Carl Sparre and then the wife of Nils Björckegren, mayor of Linköping. She had at least one additional child outside marriage.

The last years of her life are poorly documented. At the death of her wealthy daughter Charlotta Eckerman in 1790, Catharina Ahlgren was listed as the chief benefactor, and reported to be a resident of Åbo.[20]

Works[edit]

  • Brefwäxling emellan twänne fruntimmer. Den ena i Stockholm och Den andra på landet. I åtskilliga blandade ämnen (paper, 1772–73)
  • La Femme Malhereuse (translation)
  • Brefväxling mellan Adelaide och några vittra snillen (1773)
  • Om att rätt behaga (paper, 1782)
  • Angenäma Sjelfswåld (paper, 1783)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Carl Forsstrand (Swedish): Sophie Hagman och hennes samtida. Några anteckningar från det gustavianska Stockholm. (English: Sophie Hagman and her contemporaries. Notes from Stockholm during the Gustavian age") Second edition. Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm (1911)
  2. ^ Carl Forsstrand (Swedish): Sophie Hagman och hennes samtida. Några anteckningar från det gustavianska Stockholm. (English: Sophie Hagman and her contemporaries. Notes from Stockholm during the Gustavian age") Second edition. Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm (1911)
  3. ^ Henrika Zilliacus-Tikkanen: När könet började skriva – Kvinnor i finländsk press 1771–1900 (English: When gender started to write - women in Finnish media 1771-1900)
  4. ^ Carl Forsstrand (Swedish): Sophie Hagman och hennes samtida. Några anteckningar från det gustavianska Stockholm. (English: Sophie Hagman and her contemporaries. Notes from Stockholm during the Gustavian age") Second edition. Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm (1911)
  5. ^ Carl Forsstrand (Swedish): Sophie Hagman och hennes samtida. Några anteckningar från det gustavianska Stockholm. (English: Sophie Hagman and her contemporaries. Notes from Stockholm during the Gustavian age") Second edition. Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm (1911)
  6. ^ Jakob Christensson (in Swedish): Signums svenska kulturhistoria. Gustavianska tiden (English: Swedish culture history by signum. The Gustavian age) (2007)
  7. ^ Jakob Christensson (in Swedish): Signums svenska kulturhistoria. Gustavianska tiden (English: Swedish culture history by signum. The Gustavian age) (2007)
  8. ^ Jakob Christensson (in Swedish): Signums svenska kulturhistoria. Gustavianska tiden (English: Swedish culture history by signum. The Gustavian age) (2007)
  9. ^ Jakob Christensson (in Swedish): Signums svenska kulturhistoria. Gustavianska tiden (English: Swedish culture history by signum. The Gustavian age) (2007)
  10. ^ Jakob Christensson (in Swedish): Signums svenska kulturhistoria. Gustavianska tiden (English: Swedish culture history by signum. The Gustavian age) (2007)
  11. ^ Jakob Christensson (in Swedish): Signums svenska kulturhistoria. Gustavianska tiden (English: Swedish culture history by signum. The Gustavian age) (2007)
  12. ^ Jakob Christensson (in Swedish): Signums svenska kulturhistoria. Gustavianska tiden (English: Swedish culture history by signum. The Gustavian age) (2007)
  13. ^ Tilda Maria Forselius (in Swedish): ”Ett brev betyder så mycket”– några samtida perspektiv på historiska brev (English: "A letter means so much" - contemporary perspectives on historical letters)
  14. ^ Carl Forsstrand (Swedish): Sophie Hagman och hennes samtida. Några anteckningar från det gustavianska Stockholm. (English: Sophie Hagman and her contemporaries. Notes from Stockholm during the Gustavian age") Second edition. Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm (1911)
  15. ^ Carl Forsstrand (Swedish): Sophie Hagman och hennes samtida. Några anteckningar från det gustavianska Stockholm. (English: Sophie Hagman and her contemporaries. Notes from Stockholm during the Gustavian age") Second edition. Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm (1911)
  16. ^ Carl Forsstrand (Swedish): Sophie Hagman och hennes samtida. Några anteckningar från det gustavianska Stockholm. (English: Sophie Hagman and her contemporaries. Notes from Stockholm during the Gustavian age") Second edition. Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm (1911)
  17. ^ Henrika Zilliacus-Tikkanen: När könet började skriva – Kvinnor i finländsk press 1771–1900 (English: When gender started to write - women in Finnish media 1771-1900)
  18. ^ Henrika Zilliacus-Tikkanen: När könet började skriva – Kvinnor i finländsk press 1771–1900 (English: When gender started to write - women in Finnish media 1771-1900)
  19. ^ Carl Forsstrand (Swedish): Sophie Hagman och hennes samtida. Några anteckningar från det gustavianska Stockholm. (English: Sophie Hagman and her contemporaries. Notes from Stockholm during the Gustavian age") Second edition. Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm (1911)
  20. ^ Carl Forsstrand (Swedish): Sophie Hagman och hennes samtida. Några anteckningar från det gustavianska Stockholm. (English: Sophie Hagman and her contemporaries. Notes from Stockholm during the Gustavian age") Second edition. Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm (1911)

References[edit]

External links[edit]