The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Lagerlof, Ottilia Lovisa Selma
LAGERLOF, lạ'gėr-lėf, (Ottilia Lovisa) Selma, Swedish author: b. Mårbacka, Vermland, 20 Nov. 1858. Her father was a Swedish army officer; her mother came of a family of artists and clergymen. She was educated at the Royal Women's Superior Training College, Stockholm. She became a teacher at the Girls' High School at Landskrona (1885-95), and during this time prepared her first book, ‘Gösta Berling's Saga’ (2 vols., 1891; Eng. trans., Boston 1893). Its refreshing breath of romance was a pleasant change from the pessimistic realism which had been the vogue and brought the author prompt and large success. A year's travel in Egypt, Palestine and Greece provided her with material for the second volume of her ‘Jerusalem’ (2 vols., 1901-02; Eng. trans., New York 1903), and also for portions of ‘Christ Legends’ (1904; Eng. trans., New York 1908). Out of travel and a study of conditions in Italy and especially in Sicily came the ‘Miracles of Anti-Christ’ (1897; Eng. trans., Boston 1899). Commissioned in 1902 by the National Teachers' Association of Sweden to write a school textbook which should present in story form the folklore, geographical peculiarities and flora and fauna of the various provinces of the country, Miss Lagerlöf accomplished her task with a success that added a children's classic to Swedish literature — ‘Nils Holgersson's Wonderful Journey through Sweden’ (2 vols., 1906-07), the English translation of which is entitled ‘The Wonderful Adventures of Nils’ (New York 1907). Honors followed Miss Lagerlöf's successes; in 1904 the Swedish Academy awarded her its great gold medal; in 1907 she received the degree of doctor of letters from Upsala University; in 1909 she was awarded the Nobel prize for literature, the only woman to have received this honor; and in 1914 the Swedish Academy elected her to membership — the first woman so honored. Her vogue in America is in part due to Mrs. Velma Swanton Howard, who early believed in her appeal to Americans and carefully translated many of her books. Her work includes also ‘Invisible Links’ (1894); ‘From a Swedish Homestead’ (1899; Eng. trans., New York 1901); ‘The Girl from the Marsh’ (1908; Eng. trans., Boston 1910); ‘Further Adventures of Nils’ (1911); ‘Liljecrona's Home’ (1911); ‘The Legend of the Sacred Image’ (1913; Eng. trans., New York 1914); ‘Matilda Wrede’ (1913; Eng. trans., New York 1914); ‘Dunungen,’ a comedy based on her work, ‘Invisible Links’ (1914); ‘The Emperor of Portugalia’ (1916; Eng. trans., New York 1916). See Story of Gösta Berling, The.