Emil in Lönneberga

“Do you know what Emil i Lönneberga did once?” Astrid suddenly asked that question of her three year-old grandson who was screaming his head off. Karl Johan stopped his racket. He was eager to know what Emil had done. Emil was born!

Emil is not modelled on anyone in particular, but there are several individuals and events that have provided inspiration for Astrid’s stories about him. It is the picture of Vimmerby at the beginning of the 20th Century which is the backdrop for Astrid when she writes about Emil’s family coming along the road from Katthult to visit the Vimmerby Fair.

Emil is the character that Astrid felt the greatest affinity with. But Emil also has things in common with Astrid’s dad, Samuel August and her brother Gunnar.

Samuel August had an unusually good memory and was like a walking encyclopaedia for Astrid while she was writing her books. In the autumn of his life, he still remembered what you used to have to pay for a pig or a fire extinguisher at the Vimmerby Fair. He was also a very good story-teller. Several of the anecdotes contained in the Emil books are stories that Samuel August had heard in real life, and would in turn tell others. And mischief – well, Astrid got up to some herself, even if she didn’t quite match up to Emil.

© Björn Berg