* 20th November 1858 in Mårbacka, today Sweden
† 16th March 1940 in Mårbacka, today Sweden
Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf was a Swedish writer. In addition to novels such as The Emperor of Portugallia and Thy Soul Shall Bare Witness, she also wrote short stories, tales, and fables. Six of her works were made into a film and she adapted two of her stories into plays. Her first novel, Gösta Berling’s Saga, is one of the most read Swedish novels. On December 10, 1909, she became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is Lagerlöfs most famous novel. Nils Holgersson tells the tale of a fourteen-year-old boy shrunk to the size of a thumb because of his meanness. Together with some wild geese, he travels all over Sweden and gets into many moral conflicts. The novel was translated into more than 30 languages, and was the first literary work in which the new Swedish spelling was applied.
Selma Lagerlöf received several honorary degrees, and was elected the first female member of the Swedish Academy in 1914. In addition to her commitment to women’s rights, she also devoted herself to other social issues. She supported Jewish refugees from Germany, and donated much of her wealth (including her Nobel Prize medal) to help people in need.
Selma Lagerlöf lived in a lesbian triad relationship with her girlfriend Sophie Elkan and school teacher Valborg Olander.