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Fredrika Bremer
Born 17 August 1801
Turku, Finland
Died 31 December 1865
Årsta outside of Stockholm, Sweden
Residence Sweden
Occupation writer
Known for writer, feminist
Fredrika Bremer
Statue depicting Fredrika Bremer in Stockholm, unveiled June 2, 1927.
A historical marker near Stillwater, Minnesota notes that Bremer described the St. Croix river valley in the U.S. state of Minnesota as "just the country for a new Scandinavia."

Fredrika Bremer (Turku, Finland, 17 August 1801 - Årsta outside of Stockholm, Sweden, 31 December 1865) was a Swedish writer and a feminist activist. She had a large influence on the social development in Sweden, especially in feminist issues.



Fredrika Bremer was born in Åbo (Turku) in Finland but moved with her family to Stockholm when she was three years old. She grew up in Stockholm and in the manor Årsta outside Stockholm. Her father was described as somewhat of a house tyrant, and her mother was a socialite. She and her sisters where brought up to marry in to the aristocracy; a trip on the continent in 1821-22 was the finishing touch of her upbringing before her social debute.

Bremer was not comfortable with this role, and was inflicted by a crisis, which she overcame by charitable work in the country around Årsta. In 1828, she debuted as a writer, anonymously, with a series of novels published until 1831, and was soon followed by others. Her novels were romantic stories of the time and concentrated on women in the marriage market; either beautiful and superficial, or unattractive with no hope of joining it, and the person telling the story and observing them is often an independent woman. She wanted a new kind of family life; not focused only on the male members of the family, but one which would give a larger place for women to be in focus and develop their own talents and personality. By the 1840s, she was an acknowledged part of the culture life in Sweden and was translated to many languages. Politically, she was a liberal, but she also felt sympathy for the socialism of the English working class movement.

Her novel Hertha (1856) remain her most influential work. It is a dark novel about the lack of freedom for women, and it raised a debate, in the parliament called "The Hertha debate", which contributed to the new law of legal majority for adult unmarried women in Sweden in 1858, and was somewhat of a starting point for the real feminist movement in Sweden. Hertha also raised the debate of higher formal education for women, and in 1861, the university for women teachers, Högre lärarinneseminariet, was founded by the state after the suggested woman university in Hertha. In 1859, Sophie Adlersparre, founded the paper Tidskrift för hemmet inspired by the novel; this was the starting point for Adlersparre's work as the organizer of the Swedish feminist movement.

At the electoral reforms regarding the right to vote of 1862, she supported the idea to give women the right to vote, which was talked about as the "horrific sight" of seeing "crinolines at the election boxes", but Bremer gave the idea her support, and the same year, women of legal majority were granted suffrage in municipal elections in Sweden. The first real Women's rights movement in Sweden, Fredrika Bremer Förbundet ("The Fredrika Bremer Association"), founded by Sophie Adlersparre in 1884, was named after her. Bremer was happy to mention and to recommend the work of other female professionals; she mentioned both the doctor Lovisa Årberg and the engraver Sofia Ahlbom in her work, and she helped Johanna Berglind to fund a school for the deaf and mute in Stockholm.

From 1849 to 1851, Bremer traveled by herself, in the United States and to the island of Cuba. She was disappointed in what she had heard to be a `promised land,' particularly in the institution of slavery. She is believed to be the first who wrote about Gospel music, the songs of the enslaved, which she had heard sung. She also visited Switzerland, Italy, Palestine and Greece between 1856 and 1861, and wrote popular accounts of her travels.

Fredrika Bremer never married. She got to know Per Böklin, a principal at a school in Kristianstad in the 1830s, who gave her private lessons and became her friend. He asked her to marry him but, after several years consideration, she declined.

Many of her works were translated into English by Mary Howitt. In Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, Mrs. March reads from Bremer to her four daughters.

Selected works

  • Teckningar utu vardagslivet, (first work with "The H-family"), 1828-31.
  • Presidentens döttrar, 1834
  • Hemmet, 1839
  • The colonel's family (Familjen H***) translated and with an afterword by Sarah Death, 1995 (first translated as "The H- family" in 1843)
  • The home; or, family cares and family joys (Hemmet eller familje-sorger och fröjder); transl. by Mary Howitt, 1978 (Repr. of the 1850 ed)
  • The neighbours: a story of every-day life (Grannarna) published in Sweden 1837, transl. by Mary Howitt ; in two volumes, 1842
  • The Homes of the New World: Impressions of America, vol. I-III. Published in Sweden 1853, Tr. by Mary Howitt. London, 1853. Full text from the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
  • Herta, 1856.
  • Livet i Gamla världen, 1860-1862.


External links


References and sources

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FREDRIKA BREMER (1801-1865), Swedish novelist, was born near Abo, in Finland, on the r7th of August 1801. Her father, a descendant of an old German family, a wealthy iron master and merchant, left Finland when Fredrika was three years old, and after a year's residence in Stockholm, purchased an estate at Arsta, about 20 m. from the capital. There, with occasional visits to Stockholm and to a neighbouring estate, which belonged for a time to her father, Fredrika passed her time till 1820. The education to which she and her sisters were subjected was unusually strict; Fredrika's health began to give way; and in 1821 the family set out for the south of France. They travelled slowly by way of Germany and Switzerland, and returned by Paris and the Netherlands. It was shortly after this time that Miss Bremer became acquainted with Schiller's works, which made a very deep impression on her. She had begun to write verses from the age of eight, and in 1828 she succeeded in finding a publisher for the first volume of her Teckningar ur hvardagslifvet (1828), which at once attracted attention. The second volume (1831), containing one of her best tales, Familjen H., gave decisive evidence that a real novelist had been found in Sweden. The Swedish Academy awarded her their smaller gold medal, and she increased her reputation by Presidentens dottrar (1834), Grannarne (1837) and others. Her father had died in 1830, and her life was thereafter regulated in accordance with her own wishes and tastes. She lived for some years in Norway with a friend, after whose death she travelled in the autumn of 1849 to America, and after spending nearly two years there returned through England. The admirable translations (1846, &c.) of her works by Mary Howitt, which had been received with even greater eagerness in America and England than in Sweden, secured for her a warm and kindly reception. Her impressions of America, Hemmen i nya verlden, were published in 1853-1854, and at Once translated into English. After her return Miss Bremer devoted herself to her scheme for the advancement and emancipation of women. Her views on these questions were expounded in her later novels - Hertha (1856) and Far och dotter (1858). Miss Bremer organized a society of ladies in Stockholm for the purpose of visiting the prisons, and during the cholera started a society, the object of which was the care of children left orphans by the epidemic. She devoted herself to other philanthropic and social schemes, and gradually abandoned her earlier simple and charming type of story for novels directed to the furtherance of her views. In these she was less successful. In 1856 she again travelled, and spent five years on the continent and in Palestine. Her reminiscences of these countries have all been translated into English. On her return she settled at Arsta, where, with the exception of a visit to Germany, she spent the remaining years of her life. She died on the 31st of December 1865.

See Life, Letters and Posthumous Works of F. Bremer, by her sister, Charlotte Bremer, translated by F. Milow, London, 1868. A selection of her works in 6 vols. appeared at Orebro, 1868-1872.

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