Nobel Prize in Literature, 1909
Born on November, 20, 1858 in the family property of Mårbacka (Sweden). During her childhood a hip lesion affected her mobility and she became fond of reading. The deterioration of the family economy prompted her to become a teacher and she was destined to a school in Landskrona where she started to write.
Baroness Sophie Adlersparre, a main figure of Swedish Feminism, read her poems and encouraged her to develop her work also in prose. She wrote her famous novel The Saga of Gösta Berling and in 1895, thanks to the sponsorship of King Oscar II and the Swedish Academy, she gave up teaching to dedicate herself fully to writing. Her works, which tend to blur the boundaries between dream and reality had a great success. Especially The Woderful Travel of Nils Holgersson through Sweden, which describes the geography, mythology and customs of the country on its pages, was the result of a commission for a geography book from the Swedish Council of Education.
In 1909 she became the first Swedish woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and she could recover the family property of Mårbacka, which is the current site of the Selma Lagerlöf Museum and Foundation.
In 1911 she inaugurated the International Conference for Woman Sufrage in Stockholm and three years later, she was the first woman to be elected as a member of the Swedish Academy, the institution that grants the Nobel Prize for Literature.
At the end of her life she helped several German intellectuals to escape from Nazi persecution and they took refuge in Sweden and among them, Nelly Sachs, the future Nobel Prize in Literature stands out. She died at her house in Mårbacka on March 16 1940, at 81 years of age.