The son of a banker in Örebro, Bergman briefly studied philosophy at Uppsala University but soon broke off his studies and took up the life of a free writer. He married Stina Lindberg, the daughter of actor and stage producer August Lindberg. Up to his father's death in 1915 Bergman was heavily sponsored by the family patriarch; after the old man died from a stroke it turned out that the family business had become highly indebted and Bergman was forced to start making money out of his writing and court readers in a more outgoing and more entertaining manner. He rose to the challenge and in the following ten years reached the peak of his work.
Much of his output takes place in a small town in mid-Sweden, which is growing into a parallel universe in a Balzacian manner. The shameful secrets of a dozen of interwoven families gradually come out of the closet as the stories grow increasingly symbolic. A pessimistic outlook is always counterbalanced by a grotesque humour - indeed in a book like Markurells i Wadköping the latter almost succeeds in completely shading the former.
After an unsuccessful bout as a manuscript writer in Hollywood Bergman's alcoholism and narcotics abuse took over, from which he died prematurely; his final novel Clownen Jac mirrors his awareness of his drift into self-destruction as well as his belief in the honesty and purpose of artistic spectacle.
- Maria, Jesu moder (1905) (literal translation: Maria, Mother of Jesus)
- Amourer (1910)
- Hans Nåds testamente (1910, His Grace's Will or The Baron's Will, adapted into a film in 1919)
- Marionettspel (1917) (Marionette Plays, includes Mr Sleeman Is Coming)
- En döds memoarer (1918, English translation Memoirs of a Dead Man, trans. Neil Smith, 2007)
- Markurells i Wadköping (1919, God's Orchid. Literal translation: The Markurells in Wadköping)
- Farmor och vår Herre (1921, Thy Rod and Thy Staff. Literal translation: Grandmother and Our Lord)
- Swedenhielms, 1923 (adapted into a film in 1943, "Ein glücklicher Mensch")
- Chefen Fru Ingeborg (1924) (literal translation: The Boss Mrs. Ingeborg)
- Clownen Jac (1930, Jac The Clown)
- Charles XII (1925)
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