The story behind Noisy Village (Bullerbyn)

The books about the children of Noisy Village (Bullerbyn) are based on Astrid Lindgren's own childhood and upbringing on the farm Näs in Vimmerby in the 1920s. The actual Bullerbyn exists "for real"; it is Sevedstorp, the small village with three houses in a row where Astrid's father grew up in the middle farm, which served as a model for Astrid when she wrote the books. It was also in Sevedstorp where Lasse Hallström filmed the movies about the children of Bullerbyn that were released in 1986-87.

In an article in "Röster i Radio" in 1962, before Olle Hellbom's adaptation of the Bullerbyn books was broadcast on TV, Astrid Lindgren wrote about the reality behind Bullerbyn:

"Does Bullerbyn exist? I constantly receive letters from children who eagerly demand an answer to that question ... does Bullerbyn exist? If so, they want to move there immediately. At least, there is a little girl in Vienna who is resolutely determined on that point; she tells her mother that it would be foolish to stay in Vienna when there is a place like Bullerbyn. Because it does exist, doesn't it, she wonders anxiously? It's difficult to answer such a letter. What the young letter writer is asking for, of course, is that there should be a small village with three farms right next to each other, the houses should be so close together that one could climb from the southern attic room in the Middle Farm straight through a lime tree to the northern gable room in the South Farm, and there should be six children in the village, Lasse, Bosse, and Olle, Lisa, Britta, and Anna, and then an extra little one, Olle's little sister Kerstin.

If I were to answer the little letter writer completely honestly now, she probably wouldn't be pleased. She wouldn't be satisfied if I answered like this:

Bullerbyn once existed, but it's been a long time. It wasn't exactly like it is in the books - it never is - but the children existed, the games existed, the meadows were full of stone piles and wild strawberries, the children of Bullerbyn ran barefoot there and built playhouses and huts and threaded strawberries on straws. The haystack existed, the children of Bullerbyn sometimes slept there and made many caves in the hay. The owl tree existed, where Bullerbyn's Bosse once laid a hen's egg and let the owls hatch a chick for him, the mouse farm existed, "Bullerbyn's mouse farm," even though the mice escaped on the first night ... much to the dismay of Bullerbyn's Lasse.

The spring spot in the ditch existed, where Bullerbyn's Anna and Lisa sat behind the bird-cherry trees and "didn't know themselves what they were doing," the cowslip meadows existed and the wood anemone spots, where the first wood anemones grew, the wise mare Svea existed and was just as wise as it says in the book, the angry ram existed, and the kind grandfather, who gave the children in Bullerbyn sugar lumps and said "håhåjaja," he existed too, oh yes, the whole Bullerbyn existed, and Bullerbyn's Lisa lived in an old red house with white trim and a round flowerbed in front.

The red house still stands today. But it can hardly be any consolation for those who write and ask: "Does Bullerbyn exist?"

The Bullerbyn they mean is gone and can never come again ... "håhåjaja"! But on Saturday evenings in autumn, they can watch on TV something that quite closely resembles it."

Ilon Wikland barnen i bullerbyn kök katt lamm

Did you know?

Lisa in Bullerbyn had a lamb that she had rescued and raised with bottle milk. Astrid also had a lamb: "I sold it to my father for 30 kronor, who then terribly enough sold it on for a hundred..."

ugglebo kyckling bullerbyn gren

Did you know?

Bosse in Bullerbyn puts a hen's egg in an owl's nest, where the chick Albertina eventually hatches. The same thing was done by Astrid's older brother Gunnar in the big elm tree at home in Vimmerby, "the owl tree," the elm that also served as a model for Pippi's lemonade tree.


“It’s such fun when the mums and dads join in the games. Well, it wouldn’t be quite so much fun if you had to play with them every day, I mean. But when it’s midsummer I think they can join in.”

from Nothing but fun in Noisy Village

Maids and farmhands

The stories about the children of Bullerbyn are also the story of life and traditions in Sweden before urbanization and globalization. We learn about how the annual celebrations were celebrated but also about what everyday life looked like, with maids, farmhands, vagabonds, harvesting, and haymaking.

On the farm Näs where Astrid Lindgren grew up, there were plenty of adult role models for children among the farmhands and maids, laundry women, and cowherds. Despite being servants, they became, as members of the family, an important part of the daily lives for the children at Näs. Lina and Alfred in Katthult, Agda in Bullerbyn, and Alva in Madicken all borrowed traits from maids and farmhands at Näs. Astrid herself has recounted how the children played pranks on the maids, secretly read their love letters, and disrupted their rare romantic encounters.

"For a child, it was fun and educational to grow up as I did with people of various manners, kinds, and ages. From them, I learned – without them knowing it and without me knowing it – something about the conditions of life and how tricky it can be to be human."

From "Minnes..." ("Memories..."), Samuel August from Sevedstorp and Hanna in Hult.