Henning Mankell

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For the composer (1900–1930), see Henning Mankell (composer).
Henning Mankell
Henning Mankell 3 2011 Shankbone.jpg
Mankell in New York in 2011
Born (1948-02-03)3 February 1948
Stockholm, Sweden
Died 5 October 2015(2015-10-05) (aged 67)
Gothenburg, Sweden
Occupation Novelist, playwright, publisher
Genre Crime fiction
Notable works The Kurt Wallander novels

Henning Georg Mankell (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈhɛnˈnɪŋ ˈmaŋːkɛl]; 3 February 1948 – 5 October 2015) was a Swedish crime writer, children's author, and dramatist, best known for a series of mystery novels starring his most noted creation, Inspector Kurt Wallander. He was also a social critic and activist.

Life and career[edit]

Mankell's grandfather, also named Henning Mankell, lived from 1868 to 1930 and was a composer.[1]

Mankell was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1948. His father Ivar was a lawyer who divorced his mother Ivar when Mankell was one year old. He and an older sister lived with his father for most of his childhood. The three lived first in Sveg, Härjedalen in the north of Sweden, where his father was a district judge. Henning's website biography describes this time living in a flat above the court as one of the happiest in his life.[2] In Sveg, a museum was built in his honour during his lifetime.[3]

Later, when Mankell was thirteen, the family moved to Borås, Västergötland on the west coast of Sweden near Gothenburg.[2] After three years he dropped out of school and went to Paris when he was 16. Shortly afterwards he joined the merchant marine and went and then to sea, where he worked on a freighter and "loved the ship’s decent hard-working community.[2]" In 1966, he returned to Paris to become a writer. He took part in the student uprising of 1968. He later returned to work as a stagehand in Stockholm.[3] At the age of 20 he had already started as author and assistant director at the Riksteater in Stockholm.[citation needed] In the following years he collaborated with several theatres in Sweden. His first play, The Amusement Park dealt with Swedish colonialism in South America.[2]

In 1973, he published The Stone Blaster, a novel about the Swedish labour movement, and flew to Guinea-Bissau on the proceeds. Africa became a second home to him, and he spent a great deal of his life there, after his success made it possible, founding and then running a theatre in Mozambique.[2]

After living in Zambia and other African countries, Mankell was invited from 1986 onward to become the artistic director of Teatro Avenida in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He subsequently spent extended periods in Maputo working with the theatre and writing, and built up his own publishing house (Leopard Förlag) in order to support young talents from Africa and Sweden.[4] His novel Chronicler of the Winds, published in Sweden as Comédie infantil in 1995, reflects African problems and is based on African storytelling.[5]

On 12 June 2008, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of St Andrews in Scotland “in recognition of his major contribution to literature and to the practical exercise of conscience”.[6]

Around 2008 Mankell developed two original stories for the German police series Tatort. Actor Axel Milberg, who portrays Inspector Klaus Borowski, had asked Mankell to contribute to the show as the two were promoting The Chinaman audiobook, a project that Milberg had worked on. The episodes were scheduled to broadcast in Germany in 2010.[7][8]

In 2010, Mankell was set to work on a screenplay for Sveriges Television about his father-in-law, the movie and theatre director Ingmar Bergman, on a series produced in four one-hour episodes. Mankell pitched the project to Sveriges Television and production was planned for 2011.[9] At the time of his death, Mankell had written over 40 novels that had sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Mankell was married four times and had four sons by different relationships (Thomas, Marius, Morten and Jon,). In 1998 he married Eva Bergman, daughter of film director Ingmar Bergman.[3]


In January 2014, Mankell announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and throat cancer.[11] In May 2014, he reported that treatments had worked well and he was getting better.[12]

He wrote a series of articles inspired by his wife Eva, describing his situation, how it felt to be diagnosed,[13] how it felt to be supported,[14] how it felt to wait,[15] and after his first chemotherapy at Sahlgrenska Hospital about the importance of cancer research.[16] Three weeks before his death he wrote about what happens to people’s identity when they are stricken by a serious illness[17] His last post was published posthumously October 6.[18]

On 5 October 2015, Mankell died at the age of 67 almost three years after having been diagnosed.[19]

Political views[edit]

We refuse to understand what a big meaning Islamic culture has had in Europe's history. What would Europe have been without Islamic culture? Nothing.

Henning Mankell, Dagbladet, 30 August 2007 (talking about his play Lampedusa which tells about a Muslim lesbian immigrant in Sweden)[20]

In his youth Mankell was a left-wing political activist and participated in the Protests of 1968 in Sweden, protesting against, among other things, the Vietnam War, the Portuguese Colonial War, and the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Furthermore, he got involved with Folket i Bild/Kulturfront which focused on cultural policy studies.[21]

In the 1970s, Mankell moved from Sweden to Norway and lived with a Norwegian woman who was a member of the Maoist Workers' Communist Party. He took an active part in their actions but did not join the party.[22]

In 2002 Mankell gave financial support by buying stocks for 50,000 NOK in the Norwegian left-wing newspaper Klassekampen.[23][24]

In 2009, Mankell was a guest at the Palestine Festival of Literature. He said he had seen "repetition of the despicable Apartheid system that once treated Africans and coloured as second-class citizens in their own country". He found a resemblance between the Israeli West Bank barrier and the Berlin Wall: "The wall that is currently dividing the country will prevent future attacks, in short term. In the end, it will face the same destiny as the wall that once divided Berlin did."[25] Considering the environment the Palestinian people live in, he continued: "Is it strange that some of them in pure desperation, when they cannot see any other way out, decide to become suicide bombers? Not really? Maybe it is strange that there are not more of them."[25]

Mankell stated in an interview with Haaretz that he did not support Hezbollah.[26] In Mankell's opinion the state of Israel should not have a future as a two-state solution and this "will not be the end of the historical occupation". He said he did not encounter antisemitism during his journey, just "hatred against the occupants that is completely normal and understandable", and said that "to keep these two things separate is crucial".[25]

Gaza flotilla[edit]

Mankell in 2009

In 2010, Henning Mankell was on board the MS Sofia, one of the boats which took part in the flotilla which tried to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza strip.[27] Following the Israel Defense Forces' boarding of the flotilla on the morning of May 31, 2010, Mankell was deported to Sweden. He subsequently called for global sanctions against Israel.[28] In 2010 it was reported that he was considering halting Hebrew translations of his books.[29] In June 2011, Mankell stated in an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he had never considered preventing his books from being translated into Hebrew, and that unidentified persons had stolen his identity to make this false claim.[26]

Mankell was supposed to be one of twenty Swedish participants in "Freedom Flotilla II" which never took place.[30] It was originally scheduled to sail to Gaza in June 2011.[31]


"There are too many people in the world who just sit and watch their money pile up, that is very hard for me to understand."

Henning Mankell[32]

In 2007, Henning Mankell donated 15 million Swedish crowns (about 1.5 million euros) to SOS Children's Villages for a children's village in Chimoio in western Mozambique.[33] Mankell has donated vast amounts of money to charitable organizations like SOS Children's Villages and Hand in Hand,[34] a collection of independent organizations.[35]

In the 1980s, Mankell visited United Nations refugee camps in Mozambique and later accompanied UN High Commissioner Sadako Ogata to refugee camps in South Africa. In 2013 he visited Congolese refugees in Uganda. He has written on the plight of refugees and after his death his web site asked for donations in his name to the UN Commission on Refugees.[36]


Crime fiction[edit]

Kurt Wallander[edit]

Kurt Wallander is a fictional police inspector living and working in Ystad,[37] Sweden. In the novels, he solves shocking murders with his colleagues. The novels have an underlying question: "What went wrong with Swedish society?"[38] The series has won many awards, including the German Crime Prize and the British 2001 CWA Gold Dagger for Sidetracked. The ninth book, The Pyramid, is a prequel: a collection of five novellas (Wallander's First Case, The Man with the Mask, The Man on the Beach, The Death of the Photographer, The Pyramid) about Wallander's past, with the last one ending just before the start of Faceless Killers. Ten years after The Pyramid, Mankell published another Wallander novel, The Troubled Man, which he said would definitely be the last in the series.[39]

Linda Wallander[edit]

Linda is the daughter of Kurt Wallander, who follows in his footsteps as a police officer. Mankell began an intended trilogy of novels with her as the protagonist. However, following the suicide of Johanna Sällström, the actress playing the character at the time in the Swedish TV series, Mankell was so distraught that he decided to abandon the series after only the first novel.[43]


Henning Mankell talks about The Man from Beijing on Bookbits radio.

Other fiction[edit]

Children's books[edit]

Books about Sofia[edit]

Joel Gustafsson series[edit]

  • A Bridge to the Stars – 2005 (Hunden som sprang mot en stjärna (sv) – 1990)
  • Shadows in the Twilight – 2007 (Skuggorna växer i skymningen – 1991)
  • When the Snow Fell – 2007 (Pojken som sov med snö i sin säng – 1996)
  • The Journey to the End of the World – 2008 (Resan till världens ände (sv) – 1998)

For younger children[edit]

  • The Cat Who Liked Rain – 2007

Film and television[edit]

Mankell wrote original screenplays for television.

  • Etterfølgeren (1997)[44]
  • Labyrinten (2000) TV mini-series
  • Talismanen (sv) (2003) TV mini-series (co-written with Jan Guillou)
  • Unnamed Ingmar Bergman docudrama (2012) TV mini-series[45]


Film and television adaptations[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sveg". henningmankell.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Henning Mankell. "Henning Mankell: Biography". Retrieved October 11, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Richard Orange (4 October 2015). "Henning Mankell obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Damen, Jos (16 April 2006). "Henning Mankell (1948-2015) & Africa". African Studies Centre Leiden. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Cowell, Alan (21 April 2006). "In a Break From Mystery Writing, Henning Mankell Turns to Africa". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Alison Flood; David Crouch (October 5, 2015). "Henning Mankell, Swedish author of Wallander, dies at 67". Retrieved October 11, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Berühmte Autoren: Henning Mankell schreibt zwei "Tatort"-Krimis - DIE WELT". DIE WELT (in German). 6 November 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Günter Fink (13 December 2009). "Ironie macht die Dinge oft einfacher". DIE WELT (in German). Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  9. ^ "Bergmans liv blir tv-drama". SvD.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  10. ^ "Henning Mankell website" (in Swedish). Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  11. ^ Richard Orange (29 January 2014). "Henning Mankell, Wallander author, reveals cancer". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  12. ^ HENNING MANKELL (29 January 2014). "Del 1: "En strid ur livets perspektiv"". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Henning Mankell (12 February 2014). "Henning Mankell: how it feels to be diagnosed with cancer". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  14. ^ Henning Mankell (22 March 2015). "Henning Mankell: No one should have to face cancer alone'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  15. ^ Henning Mankell (27 April 2014). "Henning Mankell: A bad night before my cancer test results". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  16. ^ Henning Mankell (22 May 2015). "Henning Mankell: the importance of cancer research". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  17. ^ Henning Mankell (16 September 2015). "Henning Mankell on living with cancer: there are days full of darkness". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  18. ^ Henning Mankell (6 October 2015). "Henning Mankell: ‘Eventually the day comes when we all have to go’". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  19. ^ "Henning Mankell är död". svt.se. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  20. ^ "- Teatret er i krise - Litteratur - Dagbladet.no". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  21. ^ "Tekstarkiv". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  22. ^ Augustsson, Lars Åke; Hansén, Stig (2001). De svenska maoisterna (in Swedish). Gothenburg: Lindelöw. ISBN 91-88144-48-8. 
  23. ^ NRK. "NRK.no - Her & Nå". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  24. ^ http://www.klassekampen.no/30296/article/item/null/et-ensomt-fartoey
  25. ^ a b c "Ending Apartheid". P U L S E. 27 June 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  26. ^ a b "Will the Real Henning Mankell Speak Up?". Haaretz.com. June 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  27. ^ Flood, Alison (31 May 2010). "Author Henning Mankell aboard Gaza flotilla stormed by Israeli troops". The Guardian. 
  28. ^ Robert Booth; Kate Connolly; Tom Phillips; Helena Smith (2 June 2010). "Gaza flotilla raid: 'We heard gunfire – then our ship turned into lake of blood'". The Guardian. 
  29. ^ Johan Nylander. "Henning Mankell may halt Hebrew book version". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  30. ^ "Crime writer Mankell will be on next Gaza aid flotilla". Yahoo! News (Stockholm). Agence France-Presse. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011. Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell will take part in the next international flotilla that will attempt to bring aid to Gaza at the end of June, organisers said Wednesday. 
  31. ^ "Freedom Flotilla 2 to sail for Gaza by end of June". Almasry Alyoum. MENA. 10 May 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011. The international steering committee of Freedom Flotilla 2, a planned convoy of ships aiming to bring material and moral support to the besieged people of Gaza, announced on Tuesday that the flotilla's intended launch date is to be postponed until June. 
  32. ^ "Chimoio". henningmankell.com. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  33. ^ "Africa. Chimoio". Henningmankell.com. 
  34. ^ "2,151,238 jobs so far". www.handinhandinternational.org. Hand in Hand International. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  35. ^ "Henning Mankell". Dagens industri. 
  36. ^ Jos Damen (6 October 2015). "Henning Mankell (1948-2015) & Africa". Retrieved 11 October 2015. 
  37. ^ pronounced Ue-stad ("ue" as in "muesli" and "a" as in "father" – not pronounced as in the recent 2008 UK television adaptation)
  38. ^ The Pyramid'
  39. ^ Wroe, Nicholas (20 February 2010). "A Life in writing: Henning Mankell". The Guardian.
  40. ^ "Inspector-Wallander.org: The Grave: A Kurt Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankell". inspector-wallander.org. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  41. ^ http://www.newsdesk.se/pressroom/leopard/pressrelease/view/ny-kurt-wallander-roman-slaepps-i-augusti-289969
  42. ^ "Ny bok om Kurt Wallander". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  43. ^ Paul Gallagher (26 December 2009). "Henning Mankell creates a 'female Wallander' following star's suicide". the Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  44. ^ "Henning Mankell". IMDb. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  45. ^ "Mankell to develop Ingmar Bergman drama". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  46. ^ "Författare : Colombine Teaterförlag". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  47. ^ http://www.henningmankell.se/Teater/Pjäser

External links[edit]