Eyvind Johnson, Author

1900 - 1976

 
 
Born in 1900 at Svartbjorsbyn near Boden in the north of Sweden. Parents, Olof Petter J., stonecutter from Varmland, and Cevia Gustafsdotter from Blekinge. There were six children in the family, of whom Eyvind Johnson was the next youngest. His father fell ill with silicosis about 1904, and Eyvind Johnson was taken care of by his childless aunt and her husband, stonecutter Anders Johan Rost. At the age of fourteen he left his foster-parents, of whom he was very fond, to look for work near the home where he was born.

He did many different kinds of work, first at the timber sorting town near Savast on the Lule River, then at the Bjorn brickworks. Between 1915 and 1919 he was a sawmill worker, a ticket seller and usher at a cinema, and a projectionist; then assistant to plumbers and electricians. In 1918 he was a locomotive cleaner at the engine sheds in Boden, and for a time during the winter, a stoker on cargo trains between Boden and Haparanda. Again, sawmill worker for a while, then hay-presser, then out of work. Borrowing money, he traveled down to Stockholm, where he got work at LM Ericsson's big workshop in Tulegatan. The metalworkers' strike broke out in 1920 and he tried to live on what he wrote, with very meagre results. At the same time, together with some other young budding writers, he founded the literary magazine Var Nutid (Our Present Day), which appeared in six issues. He then became a member the society of future writers which called itself De grona (The Green Ones).

From the autumn of 1920 to the autumn of 1921, together with two or three friends, he worked at haymaking and timber-felling on a small farm in Uppland, where he had spare time and peace in which to read and write.

In the autumn of 1921 he went to Germany - by cargo boat to Kiel, by train to Berlin, and a few months later he continued via the Rhineland to Paris, where he earned his living writing for Swedish papers, as a cement worker, and then as a dishwasher at a big hotel near the Gare du Nord. Then back to Berlin, where he remained until the autumn of 1923, when he returned home to Sweden.

His first book, De fyra framlingarna (The Four Strangers), a collection of short stories, was finished in the spring of 1924 and published during the autumn. During a winter visit to the North, he finished his second book, which was published in the autumn of 1925. By then E.J. was back in France, where he was to live for over five years.

In 1927 he was married at Saint-Leu-La Foret to Aase Christofersen. Their son Tore was born there in 1928. In 1930 the family moved home to Sweden.

After Aase Johnson's death, Eyvind Johnson married Cilla Frankenhaeuser. They have two children, Maria, born 1944, and Anders, born 1946. From 1947 to 1950, Eyvind Johnson and his family lived in Switzerland and England, and after that at Saltsjobaden. From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1968-1980