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Rasmus and the Tramp

Rasmus is an orphan and lives in an orphanage. There, strict order is maintained under the supervision of the stern Miss Hök. His best friend Gunnar also lives in the orphanage. But most of all, Rasmus wishes he had his own parents.

 Sometimes, childless couples come to the orphanage to adopt a child, but they always choose girls with curly hair. So, Rasmus thinks that if you're an orphaned boy with straight hair, you might as well be dead. Eventually, Rasmus decides to take matters into his own hands. He runs away and plans to find himself a mom and dad. If they don't have anyone else to choose from, they must take him, Rasmus believes.

 Things don't turn out exactly as Rasmus had planned. He does meet Paradis-Oskar, who calls himself God's best friend and lives as a tramp. And it goes quite well. A lot happens when you live as a tramp...

The history behind Rasmus and the Tramp

Really, it is a strange thing that I would not be here at all at this moment, if it had not been for the tramps of my childhood, the tramps who would knock at our door in the evening and say: “Can I sleep in the cow-shed tonight?” We children stood in the kitchen and stared at them with wide-open eyes. To be a tramp seemed to us the greatest adventure of all. We were farm children and it was hard for us to understand that there were people in the world who did not live quietly in one place, but wandered on the roads. It must be exciting and dangerous, we thought. Many of the tramps were friendly, talkative and kind – as Oscar in my book. They had a lot to tell and I liked them very much. On their behalf – and on my own – I am deeply grateful that one of them has now been honoured with the Hans Christian Andersen Medal.

When I think back it seems to med like a hundred years since the time when I made friends with the tramps – so completely has the world changed. I happened to be born towards the end of, what I would like to call, the Horse Age. Had I come into the world only ten years later I should never have been able to write this book, Rasmus and the Tramp. I should have known nothing of those bygone days when tramps existed, and when there were horses and carriages, instead of cars, on the roads. The Horse Age was a good one in which to be a child. My childhood, anyway, was a happy one, and when I wrote my book it was like returning to a lost paradise. I wouldn’t say that this bygone world was a paradise for Oscar, who was a tramp, nor for Rasmus, who was an orphan, only that it was a paradise for me that was wonderful to return to when writing my book; it was wonderful to be a child again in that paradise.

These were the first lines of Astrid Lindgren’s Acceptance Speech at the Donferment of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in Palazzo Vecchio, Florense, May 1958


“Then it dawned on Rasmus what it meant to be a tramp. In an instant, the wonderful aspects of his new life were revealed to him. You could do exactly what you pleased. You could eat or sleep or go exactly where you pleased. You were free, wonderfully free, like a bird in the forest.”

from Rasmus and the Vagabond