Elsa Beskow

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Elsa Beskow
Elsa Beskow in 1901
Elsa Beskow in 1901
BornElsa Maartman
(1874-02-11)11 February 1874
Stockholm, Sweden
Died30 June 1953(1953-06-30) (aged 79)
Stockholm, Sweden
EducationAnna Whitlock's school
GenreChildren's literature
Notable worksAunt Green, Aunt Brown and Aunt Lavender
(m. 1897)
RelativesElisabeth Beskow husband's cousin

Elsa Beskow (née Maartman; 11 February 1874 – 30 June 1953) was a famous Swedish author and illustrator of children's books. Among her better known books are Tale of the Little Little Old Woman and Aunt Green, Aunt Brown and Aunt Lavender.[1]


Born in Stockholm her parents were businessman Bernt Maartman (1841–1889), whose family came from Bergen, Norway, and Augusta Fahlstedt (1850–1915). Beskow studied Art Education at Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, then called Tekniska skolan, or the Technical school, in Stockholm.[2]

She married former minister and social worker, doctor of theology Natanael Beskow in 1897. Elsa Beskow met her future husband at Djursholms samskola while serving as a teacher where he served as head master. From 1900 they lived in Villa Ekeliden in Djursholm which had initially been built for the author Viktor Rydberg. They had six sons, including the artist Bo Beskow (1906–1989) and geologist Gunnar Beskow (1901–1991).


In 1894 Beskow started to contribute to the children's magazine Jultomten. She ultimately began publishing her own books, doing both illustration and text. Overall, she would publish some forty books with her own text and images.

Beskow frequently combined reality with elements from the fairy tale world. Children meet elves or goblins, and farm animals talk with people. Central themes were the relationships between children and adults and children's independent initiative. Her work "depicted a happy home atmosphere in the Swedish countryside of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."[3]

Beskow became one of the most well known of all Swedish children's book artists. Many of her books became classics and are continually reprinted.[4] Beskow also illustrated ABC books and songbooks for Swedish schools. Her book pages are often framed by decorative framework of the Art Nouveau style.[5]

Beskow received "international recognition for simple, cheerful stories and outstanding illustrations."[3]


Poem Illustrated by Elsa Beskow about trees in winter (early 1900s, Nationalmuseum Stockholm.)


The Elsa Beskow Award was created in 1958 to recognize the year's best Swedish picture book illustrator.[6]

On 11 February 2013, Google celebrated Elsa Beskow's 139th Birthday with a doodle.[7][8]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ Hammar, Stina Solägget: fantasi och verklighet Elsa Beskows konst (Bonnier, Stockholm 2002) ISBN 91-0-057914-9
  2. ^ Björkman, Ivar; Djursholm – staden på landet (Djursholms Forntid och Framtid, 1982) ISBN /91-85549-00-2
  3. ^ a b "Elsa Beskow". Credo.
  4. ^ Ahlgren, Stig (1977). Insnöad: Läsning i blandade ämnen. Ystad: Rabén & Sjögren. p. 138. ISBN 9789129479195.
  5. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Elsa Beskow". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 27 July 2010.
  6. ^ Anita Silvey (1995). Children's Books and Their Creators. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 59–. ISBN 0-395-65380-0.
  7. ^ Desk, OV Digital (2023-02-10). "11 February: Remembering Elsa Beskow on Birthday". Observer Voice. Retrieved 2023-02-10.
  8. ^ "Elsa Beskow's 139th Birthday". www.google.com. Retrieved 2023-02-10.


  • Hammar, Stina Elsa Beskow (1958)
  • Håkansson, Gunvor Elsa Beskow och Astrid Lindgren (1967)'
  • Sjögren, Margareta Elsa Beskow och hennes värld (1983)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]