Gunnel Linde was a writer of children’s books and the founder of BRIS.
Gunnel Linde was born in Stockholm in 1924. She was part of a literary and artistic family. Her paternal grandfather was Karl af Geijerstam, and the artist Sven Kreuger became her step-father. She herself studied at the Anders Beckman school of advertising and at Konstfackskolan (school of art and design). Later she also studied at Stockholm art school and at Nonington College in England. After spending a few years working as a journalist and illustrator for various regional newspapers she became employed by Sveriges Radio in 1947. There she worked as a script-writer, producer, and director. During the 1950s she produced the popular children’s radio programme called Osynliga klubben. She also worked for TV, including producing the children’s series called Pellepennan och Suddagumman, which ran from 1965–1989, and the 1974 show Upp med händerna which was about sign language. In 1949 she married the TV-producer Einar Linde, and they had three daughters together.
She released her first book entitled Osynliga klubben och hönshusbåten in 1958. This is a fast-paced and exciting children’s story based on the aforementioned radio programme. Throughout her nearly forty years of writing Gunnel Linde wrote a large number of books, primarily for children and young people. Her stories were illustrated by the likes of Hans Arnold, Ulf Löfgren, and Ilon Wikland, amongst others, and several of them include ballads penned by the author herself. Gunnel Linde’s writing is characterised by a sense of humour, imagination, and her respect for a child’s integrity. A recurring theme is the lonely, imaginative child. In her 1963 book Fröken Ensam Hemma åker gungstol the character of Ensam (Swedish for ‘alone’) creates an extensive world for herself out of everyday items. In Den vita stenen, from 1964, Fia and Hampus re-define themselves as Fideli and ‘Farornas konung’ (the king of dangers) and challenge both class- and gender-limitations as well as social norms in their games. The book was awarded the Nils Holgersson-plaque and in 1973 it was adapted as a critically-acclaimed TV-series. Gunnel Linde also wrote youth novels such as Gå på vattnet, from 1987, and Du har inte en chans – ta den, from 1995, which deal with everyday life matters in an unconventional manner. In her 1993 trilogy När mormor var mamma, När mamma var mamma, and När jag var mamma, based on her own family history, Gunnel Linde portrays the lives of three generations of women. The focus of these books was these women’s lives as mothers as well as the ideals and child-rearing rules that were relevant to the times they lived in.
Gunnel Linde used her writing to champion children’s rights. This activism also led her – along with the journalist Berit Hedeby – to set up the Barnens rätt i samhället (BRIS) (children’s rights in society) organisation in 1971. Over the following decades she held leading roles within the organisation. She was also an expert who served on the Barnens rätt enquiry from 1977–1987, and a member of The International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, from 1977–1984.
Gunnel Linde died in 2014.