Edgren, Anne Charlotte (1849–1892)

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Edgren, Anne Charlotte (1849–1892)

Swedish novelist, dramatist, and duchess of Cajanello. Name variations: Anne Charlotte Leffler; Anne Edgren-Leffler; Duchess di Cajanello; (pseudonym) Carlot. Born Anne Charlotte Leffler in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 1, 1849; died in Naples, Italy, on October 21, 1892; daughter of C.O. Leffler; sister of Gösta Mittag-Leffler (a professor of mathematics at the University of Stockholm); married Gustav Edgren, in 1872 (separated about 1884, divorced 1889); married Pasquale del Pezzo (an Italian mathematician), duke of Cajanello, in 1890.

Anne Charlotte Edgren, a prominent 19th-century Swedish writer, won an eminent position in the world of letters for her style, skill, and realistic portrayal of upper-class life. As the only daughter of a Swedish rector, she experienced a comfortable and commonplace childhood. From her mother, who was also the daughter of a cleric, she inherited her literary tendencies and was encouraged toward writing by her parents and three devoted brothers, although they thought it best to restrain her from publishing her early efforts. Once her talent was developed, Anne Edgren's first book, a collection of stories entitled Händelsvis (By Chance), appeared in 1869, under the pseudonym "Carlot."

In 1872, she entered into a marriage, probably of convenience, with Gustav Edgren, secretary of the prefecture in Stockholm. Although the alliance was harmonious at first, by about 1884 she was separated from her husband, who did not share her advanced views. Until the time of her engagement to Gustav, Anne Charlotte had never visited the theater and was ignorant of stage technique. Nevertheless, her dramatic instincts belied her lack of training, and she became a successful playwright. In 1873, Edgren's drama Skadespelerskan (The Actress) was produced anonymously and held the stage in Stockholm for an entire winter; this was followed by Pastorsadjunkten (The Curate) in 1876 and Elfvan (The Elf) in 1880, the latter being even more successful. The theme of all her dramas centered on the struggle of a woman's individuality within the confines of her life.

Edgren's first work to be published under her own name came in 1882 with Ur Lifvet (From Life), a series of realistic sketches of the upper circles of Swedish society. The collection was extremely well received. Her works were translated into Danish, Russian, and German, and Edgren became widely known as one of the most talented of Swedish writers. In 1883, a second volume of From Life appeared and was followed in 1889 with yet another volume under the same title. These later stories showed an unprecedented boldness of thought and expression, placing Edgren among the ranks of the radicals. Sanna Kvinnor (Ideal Women), a drama directed against exaggerated femininity, appeared in 1883 and was well received in Germany as well as in Sweden. She also wrote Hur Man Gör Godt (How We Do Good) in 1885 and Kampen für Lyckan (The Struggle for Happiness) in 1888, the latter in collaboration with Sophia Kovalevskaya .

In company with her brother, Professor Gösta Mittag-Leffler, Edgren attended a Mathematical Congress in Algiers in the early part of 1888. Upon her return through Italy, she met a friend of her brother's, Pasquale del Pezzo, subsequently duke of Cajanello, who was a mathematician and professor at the University of Naples. Edgren was married to the duke in 1890, following the dissolution of her marriage with Gustav. Later that year, she published a romance, Kvinlighet och Erotik (Womanliness and Erotics), which attracted a great deal of attention, and other dramas, including Familjelycka (Domestic Happiness) and En Räddande Engel (A Rescuing Angel), which proved to be her greatest dramatic success. Her last book (1892) was a biography of her close friend Sophia Kovalevskaya. An English translation (1895) by A. de Furnhjelm and A.M. Clive Bayley contains a biographical note on Edgren by Lily Wolffsohn , based on private sources. Anne Charlotte Edgren died suddenly in Naples on October 21, 1892, while at the height of her creative powers. Her biography, written by Ellen Key , was published in 1893.

suggested reading:

Key, Ellen. Anne Charlotte Leffler. Stockholm, 1893.