Vilhelm Moberg

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Karl Artur Vilhelm Moberg (20 August 1898–8 August 1973) was a Swedish author and historian, most commonly associated with his four novels (tetralogy) known as The Emigrants Series.


Early life

Karl Artur Vilhelm Moberg was born on a farm outside of the town Emmaboda in the Parish of Algutsboda in Småland, in southern Sweden. He was the fourth child with six siblings, of whom only three survived into adulthood. His forebears were soldiers and small farmers. He spent the first nine years of his life at the tenement soldier’s cottage in Moshultamåla that his father Karl Moberg, a territorial soldier, took over in 1888. In 1907 the family moved to a small farm in the village of Moshultamåla. This had been the family home of his mother Ida Moberg, which was bought back with money from her family in America. Moberg underwent only limited schooling from 1906 until 1912. However, as a child he was an avid reader and was first published at the age of 13.[1]

He worked as a farmer and forest laborer, and later at glassblowing before and between his various studies. In 1916 he nearly emigrated to the United States, following his uncle and aunt, but ultimately decided to remain in Sweden with his parents. Largely self-educated Moberg studied at Kronoberg County Folk High School in Grimslöv from 1916 to 1917 and at Katrineholms Praktiska Skola, a private school in Katrineholm from 1917 to 1918. Moberg became infected with the Spanish Flu in 1918, and was sick for a half year. After his illness, Moberg took a position on the newspaper Vadstena Läns Tidning in Östergötland which published many of his stories between 1919 and 1929.

In 1926, Moberg made his breakthrough as a playwright when his comedy Kassabrist had a successful run in Stockholm. He published his first novel Raskens the following year. Moberg became a full-time writer when the success of Raskens enabled him to devote himself entirely to writing.


Many of his works have been translated into English, and he is well-recognized in the English-speaking world among those interested in Scandinavian culture and history. In his autobiographical novel A Soldier with a Broken Rifle (Swedish: Soldat med brutet gevär), he speaks to the importance of giving voice to the downtrodden, illiterate classes of his forebears. This viewpoint also formed his History of the Swedish People, I-II (Swedish: Min svenska historia, berättad för folket, I-II), published in 1970-71 in both Swedish and English. The history was meant to have more volumes, but he never finished it.

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