Gustaf Fröding

Fröding in 1896.

Gustaf Fröding (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈɡɵsˌtav ˈfrøːˌdɪŋ]; 22 August 1860 – 8 February 1911) was a Swedish poet and writer, born in Alster outside Karlstad in Värmland. The family moved to Kristinehamn in the year 1867. He later studied at Uppsala University and worked as a journalist in Karlstad.[1]


His poetry combines formal virtuosity with a sympathy for the ordinary, the neglected and the down-trodden, sometimes written with his own dialect. It is highly musical and lends itself to musical setting; as songs it has developed into the much wider world of popular music and frequently been re-recorded by Swedish singers like Olle Adolphson, Monica Zetterlund, the Värmland group Sven-Ingvars and recently the Swedish band Mando Diao on their album Infruset. Gustaf wrote openly about his personal problems with alcohol and women and had to face a trial for obscenity for that cause.

He is generally held to be one of the greatest poets of verse that Sweden has ever produced.

Jag köpte min kärlek för pengar,
för mig var ej annan att få,
sjung vackert, I skorrande strängar,
sjung vackert om kärlek ändå.

Den drömmen, som aldrig besannats,
som dröm var den vacker att få,
för den, som ur Eden förbannats,
är Eden ett Eden ändå.


I purchased my love (how dearly!)
For money — what else could I get?
O jangling strings, sound clearly
The theme of my love-song yet!

For the dream, though the truth were vanished,
Was the princeliest dream I could get,
And for him who from Eden is banished
Is Eden an Eden yet.

—from Gralstänk —Translation by C. D. Locock


Gustaf Fröding and Verner von Heidenstam dressed in togas, the day after Heidenstams marriage at Blå Jungfrun

The latter part of his life he spent in different mental institutions and hospitals to cure his mental illness and alcoholism, and eventually diabetes. During the first half of 1890 he spent a couple of years at the Suttestad institution in Lillehammer, Norway, where he finished his work on his third book of poetry Stänk och flikar, which was published in 1896. He wrote much of the material at a mental institution in Görlitz, Germany. In 1896 he moved back to Sweden. But as the year neared Christmas, his sister Cecilia made the difficult decision to make him stay at a hospital in Uppsala. Under the care of professor Frey Svenson Fröding got away from liquor and women, except one, Ida Bäckman. To this day, people think that Ida Bäckman wanted to marry Fröding and corrupt him in some way. Later she wrote books but they were always judged harshly and never got good reviews. She is about to have her name cleared in Sweden. Fröding never married Ida. She was never asked to stop visiting Fröding by professor Svenson and Cecilia Fröding. Instead Fröding grew fond of a nurse named Signe Trotzig. When he left hospital in Uppsala she stayed with him to the day he died.


There is a famous Swedish play called Sjung vackert om kärlek, written by Gottfried Grafström. The play focuses on Fröding's long visit to Uppsala Hospital. There are also some flashbacks of his life before being institutionalized. One of Grafströms reasons to write the play was to clear the name of Ida Bäckman, who he thinks has gotten way too much criticism for her relationship with Fröding. The play was very popular during the 70's and had a revival in Värmland 2007. It was conducted by the Theater of Värmland at Alsters Herrgård, the very place where Fröding was born.

Selected works

His works in English


  1. Gustaf Fröding, Swedish Lyric Poet by Charles Wharton Stork, (Cedar Falls, IA: The North American Review, 1916). Vol. 204, No. 733 (December), pp. 897-908.
  2. Poems by Gustaf Fröding, trans. by Albert Björck, (Stockholm: Björck och Börjesson, 1903).
  3. Selected Poems by Gustaf Fröding, trans. by Charles Wharton Stork, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916).
  4. Guitar and Concertina by Gustaf Fröding, trans. by C. D. Locock, (London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1925).
  5. Gustaf Fröding: His Life and Poetry by Paul Britten Austin, (Karlstad: Föreningen Alsters Herrgård, 1986).
  6. Swedes On Love CD, trans. by Roger Hinchliffe, (Stockholm: Roger Records, 1991).
  7. The Selected Poems of Gustaf Fröding, trans. by Henrik Aspán in collaboration with Martin S. Allwood, (Mullsjö: Persona Press, 1993).
  8. The Complete Poems of Gustaf Fröding, trans. by Mike McArthur, several volumes, (Wintringham: Oak Tree Press, 1997-1999).
  9. The North! To the North!, trans. by Judith Moffett, five poets including Fröding, (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2001).
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Influential Swedish critics and authors of the 1890s. Fröding: third from left in back row.



Streaming audio


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