The brothers Lionheart

One early morning Astrid was travelling by train past the lake Fryken. Everything was covered in white frost. There was a snowy haze over the lake and the beauty of the pink sky at daybreak was like something out of this world. Astrid felt a stirring to write something about a place that was not on this earth. Then the rest of the pieces fell into place.

Astrid and her friend Elsa Olenius had a liking for walking around cemeteries, playing and being inspired to meditate on things. At Norra Kyrkogården in Stockholm, Astrid noticed a tombstone commemorating the brothers Bernström, both of whom had died very young. And in the Vimmerby churchyard, Astrid read on a stone: ‘Here rest the infant brothers Fahlén, died 1860’.

“I knew then that it was going to be a fairytale about death and about two brothers”, Astrid said.

The picture of brotherly love was manifested quite unexpectedly in connection with the auditions for the film about Emil i Lönneberga. Astrid observed how little Janne Olsson, after all the fuss, sneaked up onto the lap of his big brother, who bent over and kissed him on the cheek. “Then I could picture the Brothers Lionheart.”

Finally, there was the word, Nan-gi, which Astrid’s youngest grandchild had invented himself, and which nobody else understood the meaning of. He used it frequently and Astrid began to ponder over who or what this Nan-gi might be …

Astrid Lindgren receiving much attention during the filming of the Brothers Lionheart © AB Svensk Filmindustri -Göran StrandbergWhen seeing the inscription on this tombstone Astrid knew that it was going to be a fairytale about death and about two brothersJanne Olsson and his brother inspired Astrid to the Brothers Lionheart © Thomas Löfqvist, Sydsvenskan