Seven-year-old Madicken (her name has been translated as both Mardie and Meg in English translations) lives with her family; her Mum, Dad, little sister Lisbet and their housemaid Alva, in a big, beautiful house called ‘Junedale’, in a Swedish provincial town during the First World War. Madicken wants to be a good and well-mannered girl, but it isn’t always easy. The world is just so full of exciting things to do, try and explore.
Madicken is fearless and she often ends up in somewhat sticky situations that she has to use all her wits to get out of. She climbs trees, flies aeroplanes and jumps off roofs. But more than anything Madicken is sensitive and has a big heart. From her privileged position she observes the world and notices all the suffering and injustices. She has an endless capacity for empathy and kindness. In that regard she practises what her Dad, the radical newspaper editor, writes about in his paper – solidarity with the poor and vulnerable.
The books about Madicken are Astrid Lindgren’s most political work. They tell the story of a class system in change, through the eyes of a seven-year-old girl.
The real Madicken
Astrid’s best friend’s name was Anne-Marie, but her nickname was Madicken – a name used by Astrid for one of her main characters. Anne-Marie lived in a house not far from Näs, on the road to Vimmerby. They met as 7 year-olds when Anne-Marie was walking along, rolling a metal hoop beside her and Astrid asked her where she was going. Then Astrid went home with Anne-Marie and after that they became best friends.