Elsa Beskow

Elsa Beskow was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1874 and grew up with fairy tales all around her. Her maternal grandmother Johanna taught her the old nursery rhyme of The Little Old Woman, which inspired Elsa's first book, The Tale of the Little, Little Old Woman published in 1897.

As a child Elsa Beskow would spend hours drawing trees and flowers in spring and summer, and she was nicknamed 'Princess' by her siblings. She gained a wide knowledge of plants and flowers, and her illustrations as an adult retained a child's pure and wondrous view of nature.

Elsa's upbringing was liberal and she was raised to stand up for her ideals. These values are reflected in her children's picture books. The Flowers Festival from 1914, argues for freedom of speech for everyone, and some suggest that Mrs Chestnut, in her loose-fitting dress, is depicted as pregnant – a daring thing to do at a time when the middle classes were of the view that pregnant women should be kept out of sight.

Elsa's picture books were inspired by her life and her surroundings. Her sons became models for her drawings of children. All her child characters had a basis in reality and she created one picture book for each of her sons. Elsa Beskow's family lived in an old wooden mansion in Djursholm, outside of Stockholm in Sweden. The house had a huge, wild garden from which Elsa drew inspiration for her wonderful images of flowers and plants. Nature is always prominent in her picture books: they are full of flowers, plants, trees, animals and mountains. She combined reality with fantasy and fairy tales; children meet elves and goblins, animals talk and acorns come to life. Elsa Beskow told her stories to her children and later to her grandchildren.

We absolutely love having Elsa Beskow's memory alive in our store!