She is very unconventional, assertive, and extraordinarily strong, being able to lift her horse one-handed without difficulty. She frequently mocks and dupes adults she encounters, an attitude likely to appeal to young readers; however, Pippi usually reserves her worst behavior for the most pompous and condescending of adults.
The first four Pippi books were published in 1945–1948, with an additional series of six books published 1969–1975. Two final stories were printed in 1979 and 2000. The books have been translated in to numerous languages.
With the publication of the first Pippi book, Lindgren rejected established conventions for children's books. Although well received by contemporary critics, the book was controversial among some social conservatives who desired children's books that, by their standards, would set a good example for children.
Pippi claims her full name is Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraimsdaughter Longstocking (Pippilotta Viktualia Rullgardina Krusmynta Efraimsdotter Långstrump). Her fiery red hair is worn in braids that are so tightly wound that they stick out sideways from her head.
Pippi lives alone with her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, and her horse Little Old Man in an old house in Villa Villekulla, located in a small Swedish village. Her friends and next-door neighbours, Tommy and Annika Settergren, accompany her on her adventures; though the children's father disapproves of Pippi's sometimes coarse manners and lack of education, Mrs. Settergren knows that Pippi would never put Tommy and Annika in harm's way, and that Pippi values her friendship with the pair above nearly all else in her life.
Though lacking much formal education, Pippi is very intelligent in a common-sense fashion, has a well-honed sense of justice and fair play, and has learned from a wide variety of experiences. She will show respect (though still in her own unique style) for adults who treat her and other children fairly. Her attitude towards the worst of adults (from a child's viewpoint) is often that of a vapid, foolish and babblemouthed child, and few of her targets realize just how sharp and crafty Pippi is until she's made fools of them. Pippi has an amazing talent for spinning lies and tall tales, though they are usually in the form of humorously strange stories rather than lying with malicious intent.
Pippi is the daughter of seafarer Ephraim Longstocking, captain of the sailing ship Hoptoad (Hoppetossa in Swedish), from whom Pippi inherited her common sense and incredible strength, being the only person known who can match Pippi in physical ability. Captain Longstocking originally bought Villa Villekulla to give his daughter a more stable home life than that onboard the ship (though Pippi loves the seafaring life, and is indeed a better sailor and helmswoman than most of her father's crew). Pippi retired to the Villa Villekulla after her father was believed lost at sea, determined in her belief that her father was still alive, had been made a cannibal king, and would come to look for her there.
As it turned out, Captain Longstocking was washed ashore upon a South Sea island known as Kurrekurredutt Isle, where he was made the "fat white chief" by its native people. The Captain returned to Sweden to bring Pippi to his new home in the South Seas, but Pippi found herself attached to the Villa and her new friends Tommy and Annika, and decided to stay where she was, though she and the children sometimes took trips with her father aboard the Hoptoad, including a trip to Kurrekurredutt where she was confirmed as the "fat white chief's" daughter, Princess Pippilotta.
Pippi's strength has been described in various ways:
She is also seen in the various movies picking up a horse (the books often mention Pippi moving her horse Little Old Man by carrying him from one place to another), a car, weights/barbells weighing over 1,000 pounds, a weightlifter carrying weights/barbells weighing over 1,000 pounds, pulling bars out of a jail window, and throwing pirates across a room.
There were three original picture books that were translated into English:
There are many picture books and short books based on chapter excerpts from the original three.
A Swedish Pippi Longstocking television series was created based on the books in 1969. The first episode was broadcast on Sveriges Radio TV in February 1969. The production was a Swedish-West German co-production and several German actors had roles in the series.
As Astrid Lindgren was unhappy with the 1949 adaptation, she wrote the script herself for this version. The series was directed by Olle Hellbom who also directed several other Astrid Lindgren adaptations. Inger Nilsson gave a confident oddball performance that was uncommonly consistent and eccentric for a child actress.
There were four movies made around this time, they are Pippi Longstocking (1969), Pippi Goes on Board (1969), Pippi in the South Seas (Pippi Långstrump på de sju haven, 1970), and Pippi on the Run (På rymmen med Pippi Långstrump, 1970).
The Swedish series was re-edited as four dubbed feature films for U.S. distribution. They became weekend television staples in several cities in America throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The original series, newly dubbed using British actors, became available in 2002.
An American feature film version from Columbia Pictures was released in 1988, directed by British veteran director Ken Annakin, starring Tami Erin as Pippi with Eileen Brennan, Dennis Dugan, John Schuck and Dick Van Patten in supporting roles. Ironically titled The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (while the title suggests a continuation, it is in fact, just a retelling of the original story).