Ester Ringnér-Lundgren was a writer of children’s and youth books. Her productive output spanned more than 40 years of the twentieth century.
Ester Ringnér-Lundgren was born in Norrköping in 1907. Her parents were Birger Ringnér, a sea captain, and Johanna Ringnér, who was a junior-school teacher. The family initially lived in Söderköping. Given that her father was often away at sea the family would make an effort to visit him whenever the ship he was on came into a Swedish port. During the school holidays the family would travel on their father’s vessels for short periods. Ester Ringnér-Lundgren had two older brothers, named Birger and Thure Ringnér. In 1913 the family moved to Norrköping, and after attending junior-school Ester Ringnér-Lundgren began to attend Norrköpings norra läroverk för flickor (northern school for girls) in 1916. There she completed eight years of education and, in 1924, she gained her school-leaving certificate. In 1925 Ester Ringnér-Lundgren began a two-year training course, at a teacher-training programme in Malmköping, to become a junior-school teacher. She graduated from the programme in 1927.
Ester Ringnér-Lundgren had always enjoyed writing. Initially she wrote short verses for her mother, followed by longer stories, and finally long tales. In 1927 – the same year she graduated from teacher-training – she managed to get her first tale published. She went on to write a further 100 or so tales which were published in various newspapers, including Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Nyheter, and Folkskolans Barntidning. Her first post as a junior-school teacher was in Rosersberg and she then worked in Norrköping and in Mariestad. In total she spent seven years working as a junior-school teacher.
In 1931 Ester Ringnér-Lundgren married Kurt Lundgren, an assistant teacher, and they went on to have three children together. Ester Ringnér-Lundgren spent the majority of her adult life in Solna, spending her summers in Krokek near Norrköping. Her parents had purchased a house in Krokek after her father had retired. This house later came to be used as a summer home by Ester Ringnér-Lundgren and her oldest brother.
Ester Ringnér-Lundgren’s first children’s book, entitled Kvirre och Hoppsan, was published in 1951 by B. Wahlströms Bokförlag. She stayed loyal to that publishing house throughout her writing career. Kvirre and Hoppsan were two small trolls who went on different adventures. She wrote 21 books in total about these two trolls, and the last one was published in 1973. In 1984 four of these books were re-printed in larger format. Ester Ringnér-Lundgren’s first book for girls was called I samma klass, which was published in 1954. She wrote another two separate books for girls, Tur i oturen, from 1955, and Sämst i klassen, from 1956. During this period she was also working on a series of children’s books, centred on the character of Tussi. Tussis somarlov, from 1955, was the first of the series. The tenth, and final, installment was called Tussis nya klasskamrat, and was published in 1968. The first book for girls which became part of a series was one focused on Kri and Vimsi. In all, during the years of 1957 and 1961, she wrote five books about those two characters.
In the period between 1951–1957 Ester Ringnér-Lundgren was extremely productive and published 15 books. Further, in 1958 she published Kvirre, Hoppsan och trollspöet, Tussi och trollkarlen, Geten Alexander, Det går över, Kri, Ugglor i mossen as well as Det är Lotta, förstås!. As she was publishing so many books within the same year she released those which did not form part of a series under a pseudonym. Geten Alexander was published under the name of Beril Björk. Ugglor i mossen, which she had written as a book for boys – or for youth – was published under the pseudonym of Kaj Ringnér, whilst Det är Lotta, förstås! was released using the name of Merri Vik. Her Lotta series was a big hit and came to comprise 46 books, as well as the sequel Liselott, Lottas dotter, released in 1991. Thousands of girls loved the Lotta series and several of the individual books were printed in up to eleven editions. As new books in the series were published new editions of the earlier ones were continually reprinted.
Ester Ringnér-Lundgren also wrote a seven-book series about Kaja, who was the daughter of a sea captain. In these books a lot of Ester Ringnér-Lundgren’s own experiences as a sea captain’s daughter, along with her knowledge of the sea and maritime vessels, come to the fore.
Her books about Lilla Trulsa – which numbered 24 in total – formed part of Wahlströms Teddyböcker which were aimed at younger children. These books were printed in larger format to help children to read them by themselves. Many of the Trulsa books were used in teaching Swedish. Ester Ringnér-Lundgren’s hundredth book, published in 1972, was a jubilee edition entitled Soliga sagor and took the form of a selection of the Trulsa books.
Several of Ester Ringnér-Lundgren’s books were translated into other languages. Geten Alexander was translated into English. The first few books in the Trulsa series were translated into English and German. The Lotta-series have been translated into Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Finnish and German.
Ester Ringnér-Lundgren took the inspiration for her stories from her own life experiences, stories she had heard from her own children or from others, or from things she herself had seen or read. A recurring theme in Ester Ringnér-Lundgren’s writings is happiness. She endeavoured to write happy books and wanted to make her readers happy. All of her books are also characterised by her desire to share her knowledge, mainly of literature, music, nature, and sea-travel.
Ester Ringnér-Lundgren wrote around 135 books, over a 40-year period, and these were printed in 3.5 million copies. Through her extensive literary output, spread across an extended period of time, Ester Ringnér-Lundgren became known as the “grand old lady” of the Wahlström publishing house. The last book in the Lotta series was published just two years before she died.
Ester Ringnér-Lundgren died in 1993.