Stina Bergman, née Lindberg, was a Swedish author and dramatist.
Both Stina Bergman’s parents were active in the theatre world. Her father August Lindberg was an actor and theatre leader. His most famous role was as Hamlet. Lindberg led a travelling theatre company between 1882–1897 and was for a time theatre director in Gothenburg. His acting career continued with reading tours. At the beginning of the 1900s, he directed drama at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm (Dramaten). It was he who introduced Henrik Ibsen to Swedish audiences. His wife Augusta, née Blomstedt, was an actress in her husband’s theatre company and at Dramaten.
Stina Bergman was thus born practically on the stage. When her father’s company visited Örebro, they came in contact with Hjalmar Bergman’s father Claes, a bank director, who was also an insurance agent. This came in very handy since the Örebro Theatre was burnt down in 1882. A long time later, the fancy crossed Hjalmar Bergman’s mother Fredrique’s mind, of letting her sulky son, then a philosophy student at Uppsala, start socialising with the lively Lindberg theatre family. At that time Stina Bergman was a young girl in her teens. Hjalmar Bergman started to write letters to her in which he emphasised explicitly that he demanded obedience and submission from her. However, his letters did not frighten her but held a magic that captured her. In 1908, Hjalmar Bergman and Stina Bergman were married. Upon their engagement, Stina received a chain with three charms that were to be deciphered as ”SB belongs to HjB”.
Right from the beginning of their marriage, Hjalmar Bergman’s streak of tyrannically controlling jealousy was evident. Some time after 1910, his homosexuality began to be obvious and during the last decades of his life he turned to young men. During the 1920s, the marriage went through a deep crisis. How did Stina Bergman cope? In some strange way, she became obsessed by the imaginative author. Their intimate life could sometimes be a game and she had the ability to calm his nerves.
The couple did not have any children but Hjalmar Bergman’s sister Elna had a daughter, Irma S:t Cyr, born in 1902, who at times lived with the Bergmans and accompanied them on their travels abroad. Irma later became an author of children’s literature. However, her key novel seems to have been a story for adults, recounting the niece’s experiences of her egocentric uncle Hjalmar Bergman. Jag behöver dig from 1942 is a merciless depiction of a marriage characterised by jealousy and feminine sacrifice.
Stina Bergman had early on started to work on the preparation of her husband’s manuscripts as his secretary. As early as 1913, she bought a booklet on how to write a film script. When Hjalmar Bergman’s father died in 1915, he had to start earning his own living. During the same period, Victor Sjöström was harvesting great successes. Swedish film needed new stories and that attracted Hjalmar Bergman. The Bergman couple wrote 40 film scripts together at the end of the 1910s, mainly for the income.
Despite her demanding life with Hjalmar Bergman, whom she helped with editing and manuscript preparation, Stina Bergman was also in her own right a creative person who had a number of fictional works published, mainly for children. Her collection of stories Stygga barn och snälla, from 1927 and the play Young Women from 1934, after Alcott’s novel, are examples of this. In addition, she devoted herself to translation and in 1931 The Mysteries of Paris by Eugène Sue appeared clad in her linguistic style.
However, it was as a dramatist and film writer that Stina Bergman was to make her chief contribution. She wrote a number of film scripts between 1935–1940 of which all deserve to be named: Swedenhielms, A Woman’s Face, Dollar, Gubben kommer, Gläd dig i din ungdom and His Grace's Will. After her demanding husband’s death in 1931, Stina Bergman achieved a central position in the emergence of modern Swedish film.
Her first film script after her husband’s death and her consequent collapse was Swedenhielms in 1935. The Director Gustaf Molander was her co-author. The play had been written by Hjalmar Bergman in 1925 and the production had toured abroad with Stina Bergman as the director. She received much acclaim for the film script to A Woman’s Face, in 1938 (with Gösta Stevens and Ragnhild Prim). When Stina Bergman became the Director of Swedish Film’s script section in 1940, the ongoing world war affected Sweden’s access to foreign film, which meant that Swedish film was needed even more. Serious subjects were taken up and Stina Bergman introduced good literature into the range of film scripts – in contrast to the light comedies of the 1930s.
Stina Bergman was the director of the Swedish Film Industry’s script section in 1940–1947. She published a small booklet in 1942 with Några ord om hur man skriver en film. Strangely enough, Ingmar Bergman made his debut as a dramatist at the end of the 1940s, at Swedish Film Industry’s script section, under Stina Bergman. She let him work on trial as a ”script washer”. Authors engaged by Stina Bergman had regular working hours, producing scripts based on novels and short stories. Ingmar Bergman has witnessed that Stina Bergman’s schooling was useful to him in his future film work.
Symptomatically, the only script that Stina Bergman wrote completely on her own was His Grace's Will, in 1940. It was a new screen adaptation of a silent film created by Hjalmar Bergman and Victor Sjöström in 1919. Stina Bergman’s adaptation was a great success, which shows that her gift for film as a medium was independent and high-standing.
Stina Bergman directed Patrasket at the Stockholm City Theatre as late as in 1962 – a play that Hjalmar Bergman had written in 1928. She continued to communicate and interpret her difficult husband’s creations right up to the last. After Stina Bergman’s death in 1976, 45 years after her husband died, they were united in the same urn and transported to Norra kyrkogården (the Northern Cemetery) in Örebro.