Life of a 19th century writer

1828  Abraham Victor Rydberg is born on december 18 in the provincial city of Jönköping. His father is a prison guard and ex-soldier, his mother a midwife. Two brothers and three sisters.
1834 His mother dies in the cholera epidemic. His father hits the bottle, loses his job and apartment. The family is broken up. Victor is boarded out to various poor households by the authorities ...
1838-47  ... but his talents are recognized, and he is sent to the grammar school where he receives a good education.
1847-51 Works at radical liberal newspapers in Jönköping and Göteborg. Revolutionary hopes of 1848, followed by disappointment. Writes a number of serialized novels in the sensationalist style.
1851-52 University studies in Lund. Leaves without a degree due to lack of money.
1852-55 Supports himself as a private tutor. A platonic love affair with one of his boy students later gives rise to a major controversy in the Swedish History of Literature.
1855 Journalist at the liberal newspaper Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning, where he remains for 21 years. Its owner/editor S A Hedlund becomes his closest friend; "together they make the Handelstidningen one of the most influential newspapers in Scandinavia". Rydberg lives in Hedlund's home for many years, becoming almost a member of the family.
1857 His first book is published, an adventure story: The Freebooter of the Baltic.
1857 First version of his "favourite child", the romantic novel Singoalla, published in an obscure literary calendar.
1859 The Last Athenian, his most ambitious novel, and also his last for more than 30 years.
1859 Writes a pamphlet on national defence, which inspires the "Sharpshooter's movement", a voluntary militia of some political importance during the 1860s.
1862 Publishes the theological pamphlet Bibelns lära om Kristus ("Christ According to the Bible"), which denies the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. It makes him famous (and infamous) overnight, and starts a long and bitter fight with the Swedish Church.
1865 The Magic of the Middle Ages, his first book at a major publishing house. >From now on he is an increasingly successful writer in economic terms.
1865-68 Long and severe depression, for which the theological struggle and a broken engagement in 1865 have been blamed.
1869 First English translation: The Last Athenian is published in the United States on the initiative of Swedish female-rights pioneer Fredrika Bremer.
1870-72 Member of the Swedish parliament, where he supports the Peasant's party. Actively involved in the emancipation of the jews and in the defence question.
1870 Responsible for the then very controversial pro-German line of the Handelstidningen in the war between Germany and France.
1871 Writes Little Vigg's Christmas Eve, a children's story that will become his most widely spread work, with translations into at least 13 languages.
1872-73 Launches a major campaign to purify the Swedish language from foreign (especially German) influence. Changes the spelling of his forename to Viktor.
1874 Journey to Italy and Rome. "Born anew". Returns full of energy and ideas.
1874-76 Reaches a new and less radical audience with a collection of pious legends - Roman Legends - and a series of essays on classical history and art, later collected in Roman Days.
1875 Completes a much admired translation of Goethe's Faust, which becomes his "passport to the Swedish Parnassus".
1875 Makes his "official" debut as a poet, having previously only published some anonymous poems. Immediate success.
1876 Quits the newspaper for a position as lecturer at a precursor to the University of Göteborg. His subjects are Philosophy and History of culture.
1877 Honorary doctor at the University of Uppsala, then celebrating its 400-year jubilee. Writes the Cantata, epitome of Swedish idealistic poetry.
1877 Elected to the Swedish academy.
1879 Marries Susen Hasselblad (1849-1932), daughter of a rich merchant. The marriage is never consummated.
1880 Starts the study of old Germanic myths that will absorb most of his powers for nearly a decade.
1882 The year of the "modern (i.e. realistic) breakthrough" in Swedish literature. Rydberg (who is not "modern") publishes his collected poems but then enters a long period of literary silence.
1884 Moves to Stockholm, where he has been appointed professor of History of culture.
1884 Refuses to support August Strindberg in a famous blasphemy case. Although they are recognized as the two leading Swedish writers for a long time, Rydberg and Strindberg never speak to each other.
1888 Juror in the trial which sends socialist leader Hjalmar Branting to jail for blasphemy. Rydberg's reputation among radicals suffers accordingly.
1888 His chair at the university is changed to History of Art.
1889 The second and final part of the monumental, and largely ignored, Teutonic Mythology is completed.
1891 Literary comeback with the novel Vapensmeden ("The armourer") and a second collection of poems. Writes "the most powerful piece of political poetry in the Swedish literature", Den nya Grottesången ("The New song of Grotte").
1894 Fourth and final version of Singoalla, with drawings by Carl Larsson.
1895 Dies of diabetes and arteriosclerosis.

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14 dec 1998 / 25 jan 2004