Ellen Löfmarck was a dentist, literary critic, author and translator.
Ellen Löfmarck was born in Örebro on 14 November 1907. Her father, Georg Stenquist, was a subject teacher. Her mother was Anna Olsson. Ellen Löfmarck matriculated at Uppsala Enskilda grammar school in 1927 and continued on to study medicine at the Karolinska Institute. In 1931, she completed her Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree and then started studying to be a dental surgeon. In 1934 she completed her education and qualified as a dental surgeon. She worked as a school dentist in Gothenburg from 1939.
The same year as she gained her dental qualification, 1934, she married Per Wilhelm Löfmarck, a medical doctor. They had three sons, the first of whom, Carl Johan, was born in 1935. The family lived centrally in Gothenburg. When the second world war broke out, the family bought a house in the rural district of Grangärde in Dalarna. They spent many summers and winters there, but it was in Gothenburg that Ellen Löfmarck lived and practised.
At the same time as Ellen Löfmarck was professionally active as a dentist, she had a strong cultural interest and the American poet Emily Dickinson interested her particularly. She read poems and books with the collected correspondence that Emily Dickinson had left behind her after her death. In 1950, Ellen Löfmarck translated part of the correspondence and about sixty poems. Now the broader public in Sweden would be able to get to know the poet Emily Dickinson. The book Emily Dickinson. En introduktion och lyriska tolkningar av Ellen Löfmarck was published by Natur & Kultur in 1950.
The book was received with both positive and negative reviews in the Swedish press. It was reviewed by Olof Lagercrantz among others, in one of the major Swedish daily newspapers, Svenska Dagbladet, on 13 June 1950. He considered that Ellen Löfmarck gave a first-class introduction to the poet Dickinson but was on the other hand somewhat critical of certain translations since he opined that: “In many cases, Ellen Löfmarck has captured excellently the simultaneously blunt and artistically refined aspects of the Dickinson verse … But in far too many poems one regrets the lack of focus and feeling for the meaning of the words.” Certain other reviewers were of the opinion that Ellen Löfmarck was not capable of translating at the level required, since she did not dedicate herself full time to working culturally. Her interpretations were also compared with earlier translations by Erik Blomberg and Johannes Edfelt.
After the publication of the Dickinson book, several more writing assignments were awaiting Ellen Löfmarck. She was often hired by the other major Swedish daily paper, Dagens Nyheter to write literature reviews, sometimes side by side with the well-known reviewer of her own book, Olof Lagercrantz. He was the head of culture on Dagens Nyheter, between 1951—1960, and it was also during these years that Ellen Löfmarck wrote for the newspaper.
Since Ellen Löfmarck was a dental surgeon, she was often given assignments to write articles on matters related to dental care. In Dagens Nyheter on 13 March 1957, she wrote an interjection in the debate about dental health since she thought it wrong to cancel the economic contributions to the medical board’s (Medicinalstyrelsen’s) information campaign against caries and tooth decay. The lack of information would only favour the sugar industry. Although most of Ellen Löfmarck’s assignments were as a reviewer of various kinds of books, sometimes she also wrote longer articles for other newspapers than Dagens Nyheter, like for example one on Dan Andersson and poverty: “Dan Andersson och fattigdomen” that was published in 1955 in the magazine Vi as well as a longer text in the cultural magazine Ord & Bild in 1952, about the journalist, translator and essayist Klara Johanson. It had a long title advertising her own reflections on Klara Johanson’s book collection in the Nobel library: “Det sista bokrummet: Några reflexioner kring Klara Johansons boksamling på Nobelbiblioteket”. This last text was republished by the Swedish Academy in 2008, in connection with the appearance of a biography on Klara Johanson by Carina Burman.
Ellen Löfmarck met several established authors and on one occasion handed over one of her books to Astrid Lindgren with a personal greeting: “Warmest thanks for a pleasant get-together at our event Bokens dag in Göinga town.” The book with this dedication is preserved in the Astrid Lindgren collection at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm.
Ellen Löfmarck died on 30 August 1960. She is buried in Grangärde in Dalarna.