Bellman, Carl Michael

Carl Michael Bellman was born in Stockholm in 1740 and died there in 1795.
Born into a respectable bourgeois family in the Södermalm district of Stockholm, Bellman was first educated privately and later studied briefly in Uppsala. Apart from this period and his flight from creditors to Norway in 1763, he spent his entire life in Stockholm. This temporary flight meant that Bellman was unable to resume his position at the National Bank on his return. In the troubled years that followed, during which his family became impoverished and his parents died, he began to write drinking songs. Soon these songs and his Bible parodies were widely read and won him recognition and financial support at the art-loving court of Gustav III.
In his songs, some of which he set to music himself, he used classical allusions, elaborate metaphors and pastoral motifs. His multi-layered lyrics are characterized by an insatiable joy of life, but also by the knowledge of death and misery. With a language that is among the most beautiful in Swedish literature, he relentlessly describes the less beautiful sides of social reality.
Completely impoverished after the death of his parents, Bellman was unable to achieve a high social position despite his fame. He died of tuberculosis, which he contracted in the royal castle in 1794 during a ten-week imprisonment for high debts.