Gunilla Bergström was born in 1942 in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she studied at the Institute of Journalism and later worked as a journalist on several of the main Swedish newspapers until 1975, when she became a full-time author. Her first children's ...
Gunilla Bergström was born in 1942 in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she studied at the Institute of Journalism and later worked as a journalist on several of the main Swedish newspapers until 1975, when she became a full-time author. Her first children's book, published in 1971, has been followed by about 30 others, which she has also illustrated.
Gunilla Bergström's books are idiosyncratic and supremely personal, above all because of their illustrations. She grew up in an artist's home and is a self-taught draughtsman. These are clear, distinct pictures, directly captivating through their simplicity and through the psychological tension which she deftly creates with a few, aptly chosen details. The technique is ink and collage with a glorious mixture of fabric, paper, yarns and cuttings. Another unmistakable characteristic is the facial expressions of the figures, which she has become something of a master in developing and varying ad infinitum. She is not averse to a touch of fantasy and comic exaggeration, and she makes very deliberate use of colors to complete every story and convey the mood of it.
"No princesses, adventures and spacemen! No fancy pictures and, above all, no pretty fibs! I want to tell true stories about real people, just the way we behave in everyday life. Mini-dramas on the psychological level. Mischief, missing a friend, being frightened of ghosts, getting into fights, Christmas being over ... The sort of thing that any child can recognize. But, preferably, there should also be some thing unreal, unexpected! For in the midst of everyday life we also have: astonishment, terror, a sudden paroxysm of laughter and Eternal Questions. We adults ions – a selection have mostly forgotten that kind of thing, preoccupied as we are with paying rent, bringing home food and doing our duty: forgotten that life is an incomparable enigma! Full of possibilities. The things we get into! Things we never thought we were capable of! And while wars are fought, computers are invented and people have babies ... the seasons of the year are performing their perpetual cycle, over and over again as they have been doing for thousands of years past ... It's incomprehensible! Reality is fairytale enough. Each day is new. Children understand this best. It's we adults who have forgotten.
I want to tell stories so that children and adults will be reminded and can laugh and be amazed together. Children who are charged with reality and with the magic of reality are more amply equipped. Other decisions can be made, stronger contenders conteended and more affectionate spirit can be created - when youngsters one day become the people in power. Or "simply" parents ..."
Awards and Distinctions
1973 - Working fellowship, the Swedish Authors' Fund
1973 - Arts award, Municipality of Järfälla
1975 - Arts award, Stockholm County Council
1976 - Five-year working fellowship, the Swedish Authors' Fund
1977 - Arts award, Municipality of Danderyd
1978 - Children's and Juvenile Literature Fellowship of the Foundation for the Promotion of Literature
1979 - The Elsa Beskow plaque
1980 - Arts and Popular Education Fellowship of the Adult Schools' Educational Association
1980 - "Örni" award of the Children's Cinema/Contrast for the best short film of the year (Alfie)
1981 - Arts Prize of the Swedish Authors' fund
1981 - The Astrid Lindgren Prize
1987 - Arts award, Municipality of Danderyd
1988 - Grammy for the Children's Record of the Year (Alfie)
1989 - Children's Book Acorn
1993 - City of Stockholm Prize of Honour
1998 - Fly with me said Alfie Atkins was choosen as the best book (0-6 yrs) by Bokjuryn Sweden
Gunilla Bergström herself together Rabén & Sjögren Bokförlag, has endowed Bokalen/The Alfie Cup for inspiring and exemplary in children's culture.
2006 - The Swedish Academy’s Schullströmska Award for children and young adult literature
2011 - The Emil Prize in Memory of Astrid Lindgren
2012 - Astrid Lindgrens World Scholarship
2012 - The medal Illis quorum meruere labores, from the Swedish Government