It has been a tremendous pleasure for me to research Elsa Beskow and re-read her stories in order to share this week’s posts with you. I know many of you grew up loving these books or raised your children on Elsa’s stories, while others have never met her until now. I do love this bookish community!
Today I’ll give some suggestions for locating Beskow’s books and some read-alikes, and provide links to the websites and articles where I read about her life.
It’s a long post, so just scroll down to whatever section you’re interested in.
Elsa Beskow’s Books
The publisher of all English-edition Elsa Beskow books is Floris Books in Edinburgh, Scotland. Their website has a great list of her titles in chronological order of publication, each with a short synopsis. You can find that here.
Be aware that a number of Beskow’s books have been issued in both a full-size and a mini edition. Here’s a picture showing the size difference.
The clarity of the illustrations in the full-size editions is, I think, nicer. The small size is charming, though, for a young child. If you’re buying on Amazon, just pay strict attention to the dimensions listed so you get what you want! You can also order directly from Steiner Books, which is Floris’s U.S. distributor, where the mini-editions are well marked.
If you are looking for Beskow’s books in one of the 14 other language translations, I’m afraid I can’t be a lot of help. The American Swedish Institute here in Minneapolis might carry some of them in the original Swedish. Otherwise I’d search via Amazon or ask at an independent bookstore. If any of you has the inside scoop on this, please let us know in the comments!
Sybille von Olfers, whose books are also published by Floris, has a number of woodland-fairy type stories. I have previously posted about two of them, The Story of the Snow Children, and Mother Earth and Her Children. There are many more which you can read about in the Floris catalog.
A new series coming out of Japan has so much charm with its tiny creatures and exquisite, miniature worlds. They are the Chirri and Chirra books by Kaya Doi. I have previously posted about two of them which you can find here and here.
A new book due out in March of this year which looks splendidly full of woodland fairies is Phoebe Wahl’s Backyard Fairies. You could pre-order it on Amazon here.
If your curiosity has been piqued by Julie’s mentioning of it, Twig is in print once again. Written and illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones, reprinted in 2010 by Purple House Press.
Tasha Tudor’s books largely revolve around the children on her homestead but she also has several about Corgiville, a delightfully imaginative world populated by Welsh Corgis, bogarts, and other assorted folk. I’ve previously posted about Corgiville Fair here.
All of Beatrix Potter’s books might fall into this category, with her precise nature detail and the imaginative lives of an entire neighborhood of animals. Thomasina Tittlemouse, Mrs. Tiggywinkle, Jemima Puddleduck, and the others make wonderful life-long book-friends for children.
The Snail House, Tom Thumb, and several other stories are listed in an old blog post called: five mighty good stories about mighty tiny people. They are all lesser known gems. As is…
Hunters of the Great Forest by Dennis Nolan. A great treat.
More recently I posted about Little Fox in the Forest which also contains that imaginative, small woodland world feel.
If you simply want more Scandinavian stories, here’s a page with links to all the Scandinavian titles I’ve previously posted. There are a lot! Being of Swedish heritage, I am rather partial 🙂 John Bauer’s In the Troll Wood is notable as he was writing at a similar time to Beskow.
Beskow’s The Flowers’ Festival is highly reminiscent of work by Cicely Mary Barker in her sweet Flower Fairies collections.
Of course fairy tales were a huge inspiration to Beskow as they are to many other writers! There are many beautifully-illustrated versions of fairy tales from around the world. You could check out one or two from your library each time you go.
While I wasn’t able to discover any full-length biography of Elsa in English, I did learn quite a bit from the following articles. If you can read Swedish, you’re in luck because there are several books about her, and an autobiography by one of her sons, all available in Swedish.
Floris Books has a nice biography of Beskow on their site, here.
The former Green Cardamom website has a nice Beskow biography. If you can read Swedish, there is also a Further Reading section towards the end that lists a number of resources.
A Swedish blog “Stig in i sagovärlden” (Enter the Fairytale World) has an English biographical sketch of Beskow with quotes from her son Bo’s autobiography entitled Krokodilens middag. You can find that blog page here.
The Dictionary of Women Artists edited by Delia Gaze has an entry for Elsa. I did not make it to my downtown library in order to read the entire article but from the excerpt I read it looks to have some nice added detail and commentary on her artistic style.
The Swedish Art Council produced a piece for the 2013 Bologna Children’s Book Fair which has some fascinating background on not only Elsa but a number of other important figures in the development of Swedish children’s literature. You can read it online here.
The Junior Book of Authors, 1934, published by The H.W. Wilson Company, contains a lovely, lengthy autobiographical sketch of Beskow. I accessed that through my library’s online reference materials.
The reference book Something About the Author has an entry for Elsa which also contains an autobiographical sketch, quite similar to the one listed above, but I’ll give you the reference information in case you can more easily find it. “Elsa (Maartman) Beskow (1874-1953).” Something About the Author, edited by Anne Commire, vol. 20, Gale, 1980, pp. 13-15.
I also accessed two articles from the University of Illinois Press through my library’s online reference materials:
The information about Nathaniel Beskow and his work among the poor was from a lengthy, fascinating piece, “The conscience of the rich: Djursholm, Birkastaden, and Swedish liberalism,” by H. Arnold Barton Scandinavian Studies. 80.2 (Summer 2008): p167+
I learned about Swedish National Romanticism’s influence on Beskow from another great article, “The silver age of Swedish national romanticism, 1905-1920,” by H. Arnold Barton Scandinavian Studies. 74.4 (Winter 2002): p505+
I’ll be drawing the lucky winners of the book, elf hats, and Beskow postcards late tonight and posting them in the morning. You can still enter all day today! Here are the details, again:
First Prize will be Peter in Blueberry Land, an elf hat (size 6-12 months), and a selection of five Beskow postcards.
Second Prize will be an elf hat (size 0-6 months) and four Beskow postcards.
Apologies, but U.S. shipping addresses only.
You can be entered by:
*newly following the Orange Marmalade Books blog
*newly following Orange Marmalade’s or Steller Handcrafted Goods‘ Facebook pages
*sharing this week’s Facebook posts from Orange Marmalade or Steller Handcrafted Goods (you can do this multiple days)
*newly following Orange Marmalade or Steller Handcrafted Goods on Instagram
*liking the Instagram posts this week from Orange Marmalade or Steller Handcrafted Goods (you can do this multiple days)