Fredrika Bremer

Fredrika Bremer

Bremer, Fredrika, 1801-65, Swedish writer and feminist, b. Finland. Her novels of everyday life include The H Family (1829), The President's Daughters (1834), and The Home (1839). She recorded impressions of travel in America (1849-51) in Homes in the New World (1853); letters from this book were translated as America of the Fifties (1924). Her later novels advocate the emancipation of woman. Her major novel Hertha (1856) gave its name to the journal of Sweden's largest women's organization. In the late 19th cent. she was internationally known as a key social critic and observer of events in the United States.

See study by S. A. Rooth (1955).

Fredrika Bremer (Turku, Finland, August 17, 1801 - Årsta outside of Stockholm, Sweden, December 31, 1865) was a Swedish writer and a feminist activist.


Fredrika Bremer was born in Åbo (Turku) in Finland but moved with her family to Stockholm when she was three years old. She grew up in Stockholm and in the manor Årsta outside Stockholm. Her father was described as somewhat of a house tyrant, and her mother was a socialite, and she and her sisters where brought up to marry in to the aristocracy; a trip on the continent 1821-1822 was the finishing touch of her upbringing before her debute.

Bremer was not comfortable with this role, and was inflicted by a crisis, which she overcame by charitable work in the country around Årsta. In 1828, she debuted as a writer, anonomously, with a series of novels published until 1831, and was soon followed by others. Her novels were romantic stories of the time and concentrates on women in the marriage market; either beautiful and superficial, or unattractive with no hope of joining it, and the person telling the story and watching them is often an independent woman. She wanted a new kind of family life, not focused only on the men of the family, that would allow for women to develop their own talents and personality. By the 1840s, she was an acknowledged part of the culture life in Sweden and was translated to many languages. Politically, she was a liberal, but also felt symphaty for the socialism of the English working class movement.

Her novel Hertha (1856) remains her most influential work; it is a dark novel about the lack of freedom for women, and it raised a debate and contributed to the new law of legal majority for adult unmarried women in Sweden in 1858, which was somewhat of a start for the real feminist movement in Sweden. At the reforms regarding the right to vote of 1862, she supported the idea to give women the right to vote, which was talked about as the "horrific sight" of seeing "crinolines at the electionboxes". The first real Women's rights movement in Sweden, Fredrika Bremer Förbundet, founded by Sophie Adlersparre in 1884, was named after her. She was glad to mention and to recomend the work of other professional: she mentioned both the doctor Lovisa Årberg and the engraver Sofia Ahlbom in her work, and she helped Johanna Berglind to fund a School for the deaf and mute in Stockholm.

From 1849 she travelled for a couple of years, by herself, in the United States (1849-1851 and to the island of Cuba, and was disappointed in the promised land, particularly slavery. She alos visited Switzerland, Italy, Palestine and Greece 1856-1861 and wrote popular accounts of her travels.

Bremer never married. She got to know Per Böklin, a principal at a school in Kristianstad, in the 1830s, who gave her private lessons and became her friend; he asked her to marry him, but she said no after several years time to think about it.

Many of her works were translated into English by Mary Howitt.


  • Teckningar utu vardagslivet, (first work with "The H-family"), 1828-31.
  • Presidentens döttrar, 1834
  • Hemmet, 1839
  • The colonel's family (Familjen H***) translated and with an afterword by Sarah Death, 1995 (first translated as "The H- family" in 1843)
  • The home; or, family cares and family joys (Hemmet eller familje-sorger och fröjder); transl. by Mary Howitt, 1978 (Repr. of the 1850 ed)
  • The neighbours: a story of every-day life (Grannarna) published in Sweden 1837, transl. by Mary Howitt ; in two volumes, 1842
  • The Homes of the New World: Impressions of America, vol. I-III. Published in Sweden 1853, Tr. by Mary Howitt. London, 1853. Full text from the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
  • Herta, 1856.
  • Livet i Gamla världen, 1860-1862.


External links



  • Ann-Marie Lund, "Media Familjelexikon 2" Bonniers (1979). (In Swedish)

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