Gripe, Maria 1923-

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GRIPE, Maria 1923-

(Maria Kristina Gripe)

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced Gree-per; born July 25, 1923, in Vaxholm, Sweden; daughter of Karl Hugo (an Army captain) and Maria (a homemaker) Walter; married Harald Gripe (an artist), 1946 (died, 1992); children: Camilla. Education: Attended Stockholm University; received General Certificate of Education.

ADDRESSES: Home—Fruaengsgatan 5, 61131 Nykoeping, Sweden.

CAREER: Freelance writer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Association of Swedish Libraries' Nils Holgersson Plaque, best children's book of the year, for Hugo och Josefin; Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, Wisconsin Book Conference, and honor book, New York Herald Tribune's Children's Spring Book Festival, both for Pappa Pellerin's Daughter; Expressen (Swedish evening newspaper) "Heffaklumpen" Award, 1966, for Hugo; Litteraturfraemjandets stipendium, 1968, for Nattpappan; Sveriges författarfonds konstnaars stipendium, 1970–71; Astrid Lindgren-priset, 1972; Hans Christian Andersen International Children's Book Award, 1974; Sveriges författarfonds premium för litteraar foertjaanst, 1974; Hjalmar Bergman-priset, 1977; Doblougska priset, 1979; Lo stipendiet, 1980; Metalls Kulturpris, 1981; Premio Nacional, utdelat av Spanska Kulturministeriet, 1982; Litteraturfraemjandets stora barnbokspris tillsammans med Harald Gripe, 1982; Jeremias i Tröstloesa-priset, 1983; Nordiska skolbibliotekarieföreningens barnbokspris, 1985; Wettergrens barnbokollon, 1986, tillsammans med Harald Gripe.


I vaar lilla stad, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1954.

Naar det snoeade, illustrated by husband, Harald Gripe, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1955.

Kung Laban Kommer, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1956.

Kvarteret Labyrinten, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1956.

Sebastian och Skuggan, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1957.

Stackars Lilla Q, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1957.

Tappa inte Masken, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1959.

De smaa röda, illustrated by Harald Gripe, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1960.

Glastunneln, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1969.

Tanten (based on radio play The Aunt; also see below), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1970.

ellen dellen …, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1974.

Den "riktiga" Elvis, illustrated by H. Gripe, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1976.

Att vara Elvis, illustrated by H. Gripe, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1977.

Tordyveln flygeri i skymningen, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1978.

Bara Elvis, illustrated by Harald Gripe, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1979.

Skuggan över Stenbänken (also see below), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1982.

och de vita skuggorna i skogen (also see below), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1984.

Godispåsen, Carlsen (Stockholm, Sweden), 1985.

Skuggornas barn (also see below), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1986.

Skugg-goemman, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1988.

Hjaertat som ingen ville ha, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1989.

Tre trappor upp med hiss, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1991.


Josefin, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1961, translation by Paul Britten Austin published as Josephine, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1970.

Hugo och Josefin (also see below), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1962, translation by Paul Britten Austin published as Hugo and Josephine, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1969.

Pappa Pellerins dotter, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1963, translation by Kersti French published as Pappa Pellerin's Daughter, John Day (New York, NY), 1966.

Glasblåsarns Barn, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1964, translation by Sheila La Farge published as The Glassblower's Children, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1974.

I Klockornas Tid, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1965, translation by Sheila La Farge published as In the Time of the Bells, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1976.

Hugo, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1966, translation by Paul Britten Austin published under same title, Delacorte, 1970.

Landet utanfoer, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1967, translation by Sheila La Farge published as The Land Beyond, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1974.

Nattpappan (also see below), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1968, translation by Gerry Bothmer published as The Night Daddy, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1971.

Julias hus och Nattpappan, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1971, translation by Gerry Bothmer published as Julia's House, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1975.

Elvis Karlsson (also see below), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1972, translation by La Farge published as Elvis and His Secret, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1976.

Elvis!, Elvis! (also see below), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1973, translation published as Elvis and His Friends, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1976.

The Green Coat, translated from Swedish by Sheila La Farge, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Agnes Cecilia-en saellsam historia (also see below), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1981, translation by Rika Lesser published as Agnes Cecilia, Harper (New York, NY), 1990.


Also author of screenplays for a film version of Hugo and Josephine, 1968, for a film based on the "Elvis Karlsson" books, 1976, and for a film based on her book, Agnes Cecilia—en saellsam historia, 1991; author of radio plays The Night Daddy, Elvis Karlsson, 1973, and Elvis! Elvis!, 1974, all based on her books of the same titles; author of six-part radio play The Aunt, broadcast in 1969, on which Tanten was based; author of a television play based on The Night Daddy, 1971; and author of Flickan cid stenbaenken, a nine-part play for television based on the books Skuggan oever Stenbaenken,… och de vita skuggorna i skogen, and Skuggornas barn, 1989.

SIDELIGHTS: Maria Gripe's literature for children frequently describes characters who must grapple with difficult situations, searching in the process to learn more about themselves. Her writing career began at a time, following World War II, when Swedish culture was making a dramatic shift away from an authoritarian structure. The wild antics of Astrid Lindren's Pippi Longstocking character are typical of a new wave of Swedish children's literature that broke at that time, but Gripe's work follows its own style. In both her fantasies and realistic stories, she features sensitive, imaginative children, such as those found in her "Hugo and Josefin" and "Elvis Karlsson" books.

A common theme in Gripe's books is the unbridgeable gap between the worlds of children and adults. Despite that, however, she shows that their worlds are "closely knit together—morally, socially, and existentially." The gap arises from different levels of experience and different ways of seeing things; a child, for example, will often take literally those things which an adult means metaphorically. On the other hand, adults may overanalyze a child's responses because of the longstanding habits of carefully interpreting information. "As a writer of children's books, Gripe herself has retained, as a guiding authorial principle, a conception of reality that is part adult, part child, which means that her characters live in a world that consists of both fragmented facts and imaginative constructions," noted Ann Charlotte Gavel Adams in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Adams further commented on the way Gripe, while successfully portraying a child's perspective, "never attempts to use a childish or childlike language. She may articulate a child's feelings, but she writes in a style that makes the child appear both unselfconscious and precocious."

In both the "Hugo and Josefin" series and also the books about Elvis Karlsson, readers first meet the characters as preschoolers. They must all search for identity, a task complicated in Elvis's sake by his parents' expectations. His mother named him after singing sensation Elvis Presley, but Elvis can hardly carry a tune. His father has high hopes that Elvis will be an outstanding soccer player. His parents, typically for Gripe's fiction, are self-absorbed, leaving their children to feel lonely much of the time. They must look outside the family to discover other possibilities for how to live life. Gardeners, babysitters, and other older people often fill the void left by inattentive parents in Gripe's work.

Gripe combined her skill with psychological realism and her flair for evoking the metaphysical realm in one of her most popular books, Agnes Cecilia. "It is a book for young adults and possibly the most complex of her works to that date," advised Adams. "Agnes Cecilia is a coming-of-age story but told by incorporating into the psychological process of a troubled teenager a mystical presence of the past." The teen, Nora, is an orphan who establishes contact with her past. A doll connects the otherworld with her daily life, and also represents her longing for her family. A writer for Publishers Weekly called Agnes Cecilia "a first-rate mystery, a precise, warm-hearted psychological study and a remarkably original ghost story" all combined to make a book that is "thoroughly engrossing."

Gripe once told CA that she had been warned by her father that there was but one person worthy to be called an "author"—Hans Christian Andersen—and that "light years behind him come all the poor wretches who were just 'writers.'" Her father also told her, "'In order to write you need (a) to have something to write about, and (b) to know how to write. While waiting for (a) learn (b)' Such was his judgment. And so I began to wait … and wait. Till I had my little daughter. Then there was no getting away from it—I had something to write about—and somebody to write for."



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 257: Twentieth-Century Swedish Writers after World War II, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.


Book Report, January-February, 1991, Mary King, review of Agnes Cecilia, p. 46.

Christian Science Monitor, November 6, 1969.

New Statesman, June 4, 1971.

Publishers Weekly, April 27, 1990, review of Agnes Cecilia, p. 62.

School Library Journal, April, 1990, Carol A. Edwards, review of Agnes Cecilia, p. 140; December, 1990, Trevelyn Jones, review of Agnes Cecilia, p. 22.

Wilson Library Bulletin, October, 1990, Cathi MacRae, review of Agnes Cecilia, p. 104; March, 1991, Kaite Mediatore, review of Agnes Cecilia, p. BT5.