The history

Astrid’s daughter Karin was sick in bed and wanted her mum to tell her a story. “Tell me about Pippi Longstocking”, she pleaded, and in that instant she had invented what was to become one of the world’s most famous children’s book characters.

“Since the name was remarkable, it had to be a remarkable girl”, said Astrid Lindgren. For years she was making up new stories for Karin and her friends.

Watch Karin Nyman telling the story of how it all began

What inspired Astrid when she wrote Pippi?

There were many sources of inspiration for the Pippi stories. Her red hair and freckles, for example, came from one of Karin’s school friends. And perhaps Astrid was inspired by a young girl who rented a villa one summer in Furusund, where Astrid and her family had their summer house. The author, Lennart Hellsing has told about this remarkable young girl who lived in the house people called “The Unfinished Villa”. There she lived “with a symbolic bag of gold coins”! The tenant was adventurous, Hellsing continues, and had plenty of freckles. Furthermore, she had a horse tied up on the veranda. There was no stable. Neighbours passing by were astonished. One of them was Astrid Lindgren who a few years later would begin to write books – books about a girl who had freckles, a horse and lots of gold coins.

Astrid och dottern Karins rödhåriga skolkamrat

Astrid Lindgren with Karin's old school friend Sonja, photo: Jacob Forsell