Wägner, Elin (1882–1949)

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Wägner, Elin (1882–1949)

Swedish writer and activist who espoused pacifism and women's emancipation . Name variations: Elin Wagner. Born Elin Matilda Elisabeth Wägner in 1882 in Lund, Sweden; died in 1949; educated at a girls' school; married John Landquist (a critic), in 1910 (divorced 1922).

Selected writings:

Från det jordiska muséet (From our Earthly Museum, 1907); Pennskaftet (The Penholder, 1910); Släkten Jernploogs framgång (The Success of the Family Ironplough, 1916); Åsa-Hanna (1918); Väckarkloka (Alarm Clock, 1941); and a biography of Selma Lagerlöf.

Elin Wägner was born in Lund, Sweden, in 1882. Her mother died when she was three, and her father, a headmaster, shared the responsibility of raising her with her grandparents in Små-land, where she spent some of her childhood. She attended a girls' school for seven years and later became a journalist, drawing on her journalistic skills when she began writing books.

A radical thinker who supported the causes of pacifism, women's emancipation and environmental preservation, Wägner wrote most of her novels as parts of a public debate. Her first book Från det jordiska muséet (From our Earthly Museum) was published in 1907, followed by Pennskaftet (The Penholder) in 1910, a work that was groundbreaking in its erotic insights and views on women's suffrage. That year she married critic John Landquist; they divorced in 1922.

During World War I, Wägner published her pacifist novel Släkten Jernploogs framgång (The Success of the Family Ironplough, 1916) and also the work considered her best, Åsa-Hanna (1918), the story of a strong woman in immoral surroundings, set at the end of the 19th century. Wägner continued to write novels and endorse causes throughout her life, even writing a feminist "new age" book—Väckarkloka (Alarm Clock, 1941)—40 years before the concept of New Age gained popularity. For her biography of Selma Lagerlöf , Wägner was awarded a seat in the Swedish Academy in 1944. She died in 1949.


Buck, Claire, ed. The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature. NY: Prentice Hall, 1992.

Paula Morris , D.Phil., Brooklyn, New York

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Wägner, Elin (1882–1949)

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