Fredrika Bremer

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Fredrika Bremer (17 August 1801 - 31 December 1865) was a Swedish writer and a feminist activist. She had a large influence on the social development in Sweden, especially in feminist issues.[1]



Fredrika Bremer was born in Åbo (Turku) in Finland, then a Swedish province, as the daughter of Karl Fredrik Bremer (1770-1830) and Birgitta Charlotta Hollström (1777-1855). She moved with her family to Stockholm when she was three years old. She grew up in Stockholm and in Årsta Castle outside Stockholm. Her father was described as somewhat of a house tyrant, and her mother was a socialite. She and her sisters where brought up to marry in to the aristocracy; a trip on the continent in 1821-22 was the finishing touch of her upbringing before her social debut. [2]


Bremer was not comfortable with this role, and was inflicted by a crisis, which she overcame by charitable work in the country around Årsta Castle. In 1828, she debuted as a writer, anonymously, with a series of novels published until 1831, and was soon followed by others. Her novels were romantic stories of the time and concentrated on women in the marriage market; either beautiful and superficial, or unattractive with no hope of joining it, and the person telling the story and observing them is often an independent woman. She wanted a new kind of family life; not focused only on the male members of the family, but one which would give a larger place for women to be in focus and develop their own talents and personality.

By the 1840s, she was an acknowledged part of the culture life in Sweden and was translated to many languages. Politically, she was a liberal, who felt sympathy for social issues and for the working class movement. In 1854, she co-founded the Women Society for the Improvement of Prisoners (Fruntimmersällskapet för fångars förbättring) together with Mathilda Foy, Maria Cederschiöld , Betty Ehrenborg and Emilia Elmblad. The purpose was to visit female prisoners to provide moral support and improve their character by studies of religion.[3]

Her novel Hertha (1856) remain her most influential work. It is a dark novel about the lack of freedom for women, and it raised a debate, in the parliament called "The Hertha debate", which contributed to the new law of legal majority for adult unmarried women in Sweden in 1858, and was somewhat of a starting point for the real feminist movement in Sweden. Hertha also raised the debate of higher formal education for women, and in 1861, the University for Women Teachers (Högre lärarinneseminariet), was founded by the state after the suggested woman university in Hertha. In 1859, Sophie Adlersparre, founded the paper Tidskrift för hemmet inspired by the novel. This was the starting point for Adlersparre's work as the organizer of the Swedish feminist movement.

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