Mardie / Madicken

One day when Astrid was seven years old, she met a girl of similar age in Prästgårdsallén – the road between Näs and Vimmerby. The girl’s name was Anne-Marie, and she was the daughter of Mr Ingeström, the Bank Manager. The family lived in a large white house and were the Ericsson’s closest neighbours at Näs. The two girls soon became best friends and used to play either at Näs or at Mardie’s place – Mardie (Madicken in Swedish) was Anne-Marie’s nickname. Many of the games they played are included in the books about Mardie and Lisbet. Madicken was brave. She was strong and unafraid and taught Astrid to fight. Just like Astrid, she loved to climb tall trees and balance on rooftops. Lisbet, Mardie’s humorous little sister, who was always full of ideas, had quite a lot in common with Astrid’s little sister Stina.

There was a girl at Astrid’s school who had stolen money from a coat pocket, and used it to buy sweets. As her punishment she got a beating in front of the whole class, something that always remained in Astrid’s memory, and which was later included in Mardie to the Rescue, where Mia gets a beating. Both in the film and in the book, this is a powerful scene – Mardie is screaming her NO! NO! NO! which brings home to us the consequences of the abuse and the violence that Astrid Lindgren, both in her life and her writing protested against.

The Mardie books received their inspiration from the real Madicken, but of course also from Astrid herself. Astrid and Madicken remained good friends all their lives.

Mardie, illustrated by © Ilon WiklandAnne-Marie Fries, Astrid’s childhood friend, nicknamed Madicken (Mardie)Jonna Liljedahl as Mardie in the movies directed by Olle Hellbom, © AB Svensk Filmindustri