Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The dandy home office of
Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf

This unused old photo postcard features Nobel Prize-winning author Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) working away while sitting in one of the rooms at her residence, Mårbacka, in Värmland, Sweden. (This is one of those postcards that is well worth clicking on, to see a larger version.)

Selma and I have a lot in common when it comes to our rooms, and this one at Mårbacka is gorgeous. I love the built-in bookshelves. Books are shelved both vertically and horizontally, of which I am also guilty. There are stacks of books and journals in other locations around the room. (Guilty.) And just about every bit of open space on top of the large table contains piles of papers and other ephemera. (Very guilty.) Selma and I are definitely kindred spirits.

She was the first woman writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, earning the honor in 1909 "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings." After being raised on her grandmother's fairy tales, she had an epic career as a writer. Her best-known work is said by many to be The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (1906), which was commissioned as a geography-based reader for public schools and blossomed into the tale of a fantastic journey across Sweden filled with folklore and fancy. It's going on my long to-read list.

Mårbacka, built in 1793, is where Selma was born and raised. She was able to buy back the entirety of the estate with the help of her Nobel prize money. It has been preserved as a memorial estate. You can go on guided tours, see the gardens and — when you're done — check out the bookstore.

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