Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon

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Mary Gunvor Irene Andersson


Author, playwright

Mary Andersson was a working-class author who wrote in the genre of social realism first and foremost. She wrote novels, drama and books of reportage on the most vulnerable people in the community.

Mary Andersson was born in 1929 in Tunaberg outside Nyköping, but grew up in Malmö. She made her debut as a playwright on 25 March 1977 when the Skånska Teatern in Landskrona had its premiere of the performance Maria från Borstahusen. The novel with the same title appeared in 1980. This is an authentic story of life in the poor districts around Bredgatan in Malmö at the end of the 1800s, and the author’s maternal grandmother Hilma is the model for the struggling fisher-girl Maria. The autobiographical Tjänsteflickan was written first as radio theatre in 1979 and published as a novel in 1984.

Mary Andersson spent her childhood in an orphanage in the ironically named working-class city district Sorgenfri (Carefree) in Malmö. That is the setting she depicts in most of her books, among others her debut novel Sorgenfri in 1979, then Barnrika in 1983, and Solgårdarna. Livet går vidare i Sorgenfri in 1986. In the novel Dåliga mänskor from 1991, it is also the people from Sorgenfri and their toil in the factories during the 1930s and 1940s that are depicted. This novel was made into a musical at the Malmö Musikteater in 1999.

The novel Den stora bluffen from 1995 is set in the working-class districts of Malmö during a few weeks in the 1940s. In Mary Andersson’s novels, great social engagement is evident and women and children are central. The oppression of women, work, everyday life and toil as well as love and sexuality characterise the stories. Her narrative exuberance is great, and despite all the trials and tribulations and the miserable, hopeless and hard life there is also companionship, strategies for survival, humour and happy aspects.

Mary Andersson also wrote the reportage book Asbestarbetarna berättar in 1980, about the asbestos cement factory in Lomma, that led to a working environment scandal. The documentary novel Maria och Almathea from 1988, is about the harbour workers’ strike in Malmö in 1908, the working-class women’s struggle against destitution and the strength they found in each other. Kära MAS! from 2001 is a tribute to Malmö Allmänna Sjukhus and a documentation of her own life in 1943–1995. Her last book was her autobiography in 2009: Den vingabrödna.

Mary Andersson died in 2020 and is buried in Limhamn Cemetery in Malmö.

Helene Ehriander
(Translated by Margaret Myers)

Published 2021-01-23

You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Mary Gunvor Irene Andersson,, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Helene Ehriander), retrieved 2024-05-27.

Other Names

    Maiden name: Johnsson

Family Relationships

Civil Status: Divorced
  • Mother: Hilma Cecilia Gurli Johnsson, född Sandell
  • Father: Einar Albert Johnsson
  • Sister: Alice Margareta Johnsson, gift Ackermann
more ...


  • Folkskola, Malmö


  • Profession: Fabriksarbetare, Malmö Mekaniska Tricotfabrik
  • Profession: Fabriksarbetare, Malmö Strumpfabrik
  • Profession: Arbetare, Malmö inkassokontor
more ...


  • Birthplace: Nyköping
  • Nyköping
  • Malmö
  • Place of death: Malmö



Further References

  • Anjou, Marika, ’En arbetarskildrare’ [Nekrolog], Sydsvenskan, 2020-01-19

  • Berlin, Håkan, ’Mary Andersson’ [Nekrolog], Sydsvenskan, 2020-01-26

  • Gröning, Yvonne, ’Mary Andersson : kvinnor kan hämta styrka hos varandra’, Morgonbris, 2010:4, s. 30-31

  • Kaplan, Tony, ’Ny stor teatersatsning i Malmö : självbiografi av Mary Andersson blir operamusikal på Musikteatern’, Arbetet nyheterna: [ed.Malmö], 1998-01-19

  • Morén, Jane, ’Mary hittar guldkorn på arbetsplatserna’ [Intervju], Folket i Bild, 2010:3, s. 32-34