Happy October! We’re kicking off
the new month today with coverage of the Swedish writer Anne Charlotte
Edgren-Leffler, who was born on this day in 1848.
A photograph of Anne created by an unknown photographer was published mysteriously in the Swedish book
Svenska litteraturens historia in 1923 (x).
Born on October 1, 1848 in Stockholm,
Sweden, Anne Charlotte Edgren-Leffler was born to two schoolteacher parents.
Her entire family was made up of noted scholars and academics; her brother was
a famed mathematician and Anne herself would spend much of her childhood at one
of the most prestigious schools for girls at the time. Her first publication
was a collection of short stories titled Händelsvis, which came out in
1869 under the pseudonym “Carlot.”
In 1872, Anne entered into a
marriage of convenience with the wealthy government official Gustav Edgren.
Although the marriage was sexless and devoid of romantic intent, it began as a
contented union; Gustav took her to the theater for the first time and gave her
books she had not heard of, and soon his high-brow taste for art started to rub
off on his wife. However, the marriage soon started to deteriorate and the two
separated in 1884. Having cut her teeth on the knowledge of her husband, Anne
started writing plays and they were wildly successful. Centering on themes of
womanhood and feminism, Anne’s plays such as Skadespelerskan, Pastorsadjunkten,
and Elfvan are still considered
classics of the Swedish canon today.
Anne (left) photographed with her lover and life partner Sofia Kovalevskaya (right) (x).
Anne’s lover was the famous
Russian mathematician Sofia
Kovalevskaya. The two first met each other while studying in Berlin and had a “very
intimate friendship” (according to some historians) that would last until their
deaths. Anne would eventually be married again to a man introduced to her by
her brother, Pasquale del Pezzo the Duke of Cajanello, subsequently
making her the Duchess of Cajanello. When Sofia’s husband, whose marriage to
Sofia had also been one of convenience, committed suicide, Sofia wrote that she
was committing the rest of her life to a “romantic friendship” with Anne.
Despite many historians interpreting Anne’s proclivity to writing romance
dramas during this time to be a product of her new marriage to Pasquale, many
others interpret it to be a product of this newfound domestic partnership with
Sofia. When Sofia passed away in 1891, the last book Anne would ever write was
a biography of her. Anne would follow suit just a year later on October 21,
1892 after complications from a surgery.