Amalia Lundeberg was one of the first Swedish female travelogue writers and one of the earliest female writers to portray Italy. During her lifetime she was mainly known for her interest in Catholicism.
Amalia Lundeberg’s background remains largely unknown. According to her own accounts she was born in Stockholm and was abandoned shortly after being born and left with a foster family. She could both speak and write German and French and worked as a language teacher for much of her life. She spent several years travelling across Europe – in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy – as a companion, a teacher at girls’ schools, and as a governess.
She returned to Stockholm in 1846 with intentions of setting up her own girls’ school and advertised posts for language teachers. However, her plans came to nought and in order to provide for herself, her foster sister and foster daughter Amalia Lundeberg published her travelogue entitled Minnen från åtskilliga länder eller bref till en barndomsvän, 1848. Her style is marked by a tone of naivety and in some parts there are good reasons for questioning the text’s veracity – the romantic developments as recounted by the author certainly read more like fiction than reality. In contrast, the section which deals with the author’s period in Italy seems to contain genuine accounts of the towns, countryside and cultural life. Amalia Lundeberg was the first Swedish female traveller to publish an account of a journey to Italy. The publication of her travelogue was funded by subscriptions which she herself obtained.
Earlier biographical references to Amalia Lundeberg pay particular attention to her Catholicism. From 1846 to 1848 she wrote several open letters which were published by the press and caused much protest and objections. She questioned the Swedish approach to religious freedom and called for the establishment of Lutheran convents. Amalia Lundeberg saw convent life as a means for women to ensure their livelihoods in a worthy manner. Her travelogue is also marked by her fascination for the Catholic liturgy and by her desire to enter a convent, and she also calls for female preachers.
Apart from some poems set to music – “En enkel krans till Jenny Lind” and a 12-page folder containing “Afskeds-sånger till Jenny Lind”, both published in 1841 – Amalia Lundeberg’s remaining Swedish-language writings concern religion. The same year that her travelogue was published she also had two collections of letters published, both of religious content: Bref från andliga män ock andra ansedda personer af olika trosbekännelser och från olika länder till Amalia Lundeberg, rörande hennes böjelse för Catholska läran, and Ytterligare bref hörande till Amalia Lundebergs brefsamling I andeliga ämnen.
Amalia Lundeberg also published several books in French, which according to the title pages were translations from Swedish (in some regards the French versions differ from the Swedish originals): La perle trouvée: Souvenirs de différents pays de L’Europe ou lettres à une amie d’enfance pendant un long voyage, par A- L- traduit du suédois par elle-même, 1850, and La consolation dans l’exil: précédée de quelques…: suite et fin de La perle trouvée, 1850.
Amalia Lundeberg died in 1857.