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.
Swedish writer Gunnar Ekelöf, born in Stockholm in 1907, died in Sigtuna in 1968, was one of the most prolific poets of the 20th century. He became a member of the Swedish Academy in 1958 and an honorary doctor of philosophy in Uppsala in 1958.

Ekelöf grew up in an upper-class Stockholm home with a syphilitic father from whom the mother divorced. After graduating, he pursued oriental studies in London, which he continued in Uppsala. They established a deep familiarity especially with Arabic and Persian culture. Trips to France brought him into contact with surrealist poetry and modernist art and music. Ekelöf lost his wealth in the Kreuger crash in 1932 and was forced to feed on reviews and art critics.

His translations include both poems by Ibn al-‘Arabí and anthologies of French poetry, esp. French surrealism. In his writings he moved on from romanticism to a more existential sphere on the borders of mysticism and metaphysical poetry.

Gunnar Ekelöf made his debut in 1932 with the poetry collection "Late on Earth” (sent på jorden). After three more poetry collections, which he partly renounced, his big breakthrough came in 1941 with the poetry collection "Ferry Song” (Färjesång) (1941), while he further established his name with the socially critical poetry collection "Non Serviam" (1945). The major achievement in his late work came in 1965-67, with the publication of the large-scale Akrit trilogy, consisting of three suites written partly under the influence of his great interest in the Orient and Byzantine history. For the first part of the trilogy, "Diwan over the Prince of Emgión", Ekelöf was awarded the Nordic Council's Literature Prize in 1966.

In 1938 he made a pilgrimage to Raivola, the homestead of late Edith Södergran in Karelia, together with Finnland-Swedish poet Elmer Diktonius.

Anna Rydstedt's place in the world was the south of Öland, with the village of her birth, Ventlinge, as its centre, surrounded by the great heaths of Alvaret to the east and the blue-grey Kalmarsund with its white wave peaks to the west. Anna Rydstedt (1928-1994) originally wanted to become a priest, but was forced to give up because the Church of Sweden did not yet allow women priests. She graduated and studied to become a folk high school teacher in Lund, and then worked in Eslöv, Denmark, and Stockholm. 
Her debut collection of poems, „Bannlyst prästinna“ (1953), depicts a defiant struggle against misunderstanding and prejudice. In her next three collections, Anna found both her own language and her place in the world, returning to memories of growing up on Öland in the distinctly autobiographical „Jag var ett barn“ (1970). Here, in particular, she deals with the trauma of her mother's death five years earlier.
Anna Rydstedt's published a total of eight collections of poetry and became a critically acclaimed and widely read poet. Her poetry has continued to be urgent, and its ability to educate, comfort and provoke reflection remains undiminished. With her last book, „Kore“ (1994), published the same year Anna Rydstedt died, she returned to the ancient myths and characters that helped her portray the frustration of not being allowed to study theology. To date, her collected poems have been published twice, a biography and a dissertation have been written, and several anthologies and posthumous editions have shown that Anna Rydstedt's unsentimental, earthbound and heaven-bound poetry belongs to the realm of inalienable literature.

Jonas Ellerström

M. A. Castrén is known for his pioneer work in Uralic linguistics and ethnography as well as his extensive fieldwork. Castrén’s expeditions to north-west, western and southern Siberia shared a central theme of interest as his contemporaries, who were meant to find the origins of the Finns.

He was born in Tervola, Finnish-Lapland, on 2 December, 1813. He matriculated in 1830 and initially studied Oriental languages, but continued his studies in Finnish folk poetry. In 1836 he completed his Master’s Degree at the University of Helsinki. Castrén made his first expedition to Lapland in 1838 under the direction of C. R. Ehrström, the regional doctor. The following year he travelled to Finnish and Russian Karelia, where he collected language and ethnographic materials for interpretation of the Kalevala, and wrote his dissertation on the relationship of the Finnish, Estonian and Saami nominal paradigms, De affinitate declinationum in lingua Fennica, Esthonica et Lapponica.

In 1840 Castrén was appointed docent of Finnish and other Nordic languages. His Swedish translation of the Kalevala was completed in 1841. His expedition to Norwegian, Finnish and Russian Lapland accompanied by Elias Lönnrot took place in the winter of 1841–1842. On the Siberian Expedition organised by the St. Petersburg Academy in 1842–1844, Castrén acted as a language specialist, collecting Nenets (Samoyed) and Komi (Zyrian) materials. In 1845 Castrén published his research work Om Accentens inflytande i Lappska Språket (A phonetic history of the Saami language), he completed a grammar of the Komi (Zyrian) language and began his study of the Mari (Cheremis) language. Castrén’s most extensive expedition was conducted from 1845–1849, which he made via Kazan to the Samoyeds in Siberia. During his travels he finished work on the Mari grammar, studied the Khanty (Ostyak) people and language, the Tatars, the Evenki and Buryats, and finally arrived in China.

M. A. Castrén was married to Natalia Tengström in 1850. The following year saw the birth his only child Robert, and Castrén was appointed the first Professor of the Finnish language at the University of Helsinki. This position he held only briefly; Castrén passed away on 7 May, 1852.

Born in Småland in 1919 and raised in rural Västergötland, the young Georg Gripenstad was given the opportunity to attend the renowned Fjellstedska boarding school in Uppsala. He then studied theology at the University of Uppsala – studies that were soon interrupted by the Second World War. The years of military service, however, unexpectedly set the course for the student's future life. Stationed in Tornedalen, the northern Swedish border region to Finland, in 1940/41, Gripenstad experienced how only Finnish or Saami were spoken among the local population and how these very unique language cultures were hardly appreciated by the Swedish state and church authorities. Fascinated by the multilingualism of the far north, Gripenstad decided to study Finnish and Saami in Uppsala with the distinguished linguist Björn Collinder, so that he could start his parish service in the diocese of Luleå (covering the vast northern parts of Sweden) after passing his theological exams in 1944. From Jukkasjärvi near Kiruna his path led him through various pastorates to Karesuando, Sweden's largest, northernmost parish, where he officiated for 20 years, preaching regularly in three languages and during parts of the summer accompanying the reindeer-herding Saami in his role as pastor (often with the whole family) to their pastures in northern Norway.
At the same time, Gripenstad conducted extensive linguistic research and became an expert on the North Saami language variant, into which he translated numerous ecclesiastical and cultural texts, including a large number of the songs in the North Saami hymnal of the Church of Sweden. He also made a name for himself as an editor of works on Tornedalian history and culture, while through lively contact inspiring younger researchers to further work in the field. The translation from Russian of Nikolay Kharuzin's monumental work on the eastern Saami of the Kola Peninsula was a fruit of his first years in retirement. Among numerous other awards for his multifaceted work, Georg Gripenstad received an honorary doctorate from Umeå University in 1986. He died in Haparanda in 2015.

Further reading:
Gripenstad, Georg: Något om östsamerna ur historiska, etnografiska och språkliga aspekter (= Fakta och Debatt 1/1988), Den Haag / Luleå 1988.
Johansson, Margit: Georg Gripenstad, prästman och språkforskare på Nordkalotten, in: Dimbobygden 1987, pp. 15-33.
Korhonen, Olavi: Samiskan under fyra sekel i Svenska kyrkans arbete, in: De historiska relationerna mellan Svenska kyrkan och samerna: en vetenskaplig antologi, vol. 2, ed. by Daniel Lindmark and Olle Sundström, Skellefteå 2016, pp. 735-795 (here pp. 779-783).

Jesper Festin, born in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1988, is a literary translator from German. He currently lives in Uppsala and Berlin.
After studying German language and literature in Lund and Berlin, as well as literary translation at the Valand Academy in Gothenburg, he published his first translation, the children’s book Ich groß du klein by Lilli L’Arronge, in 2015. Since then, he has translated about 15 works into Swedish, including Die Kieferninseln by Marion Poschmann, Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann and Die Obstdiebin by Peter Handke.
In 2023 he received the Swedish Academy's Translation prize.