Biographies

All 'Biographies' are listed here in the order that they were published. We aim to have an assortment of biographies of individuals who are Nordic or have a connection to the Nordics, and who have made an impact on Nordic and/or international society in the modern era. Our long term aim is to focus on those who are little known and to be inclusive. 

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. Photo: In 1985 at Rotterdam airport, on a visit to Queen Beatrix.

2021.07.19 | Biography, Kevin Hogg, Culture, Democracy

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, b. 1930

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is an Icelandic politician. She served as the country’s president for 16 years, using the office to promote Icelandic culture around the world, amongst other things. Since her retirement, she has served on various international organizations, has campaigned for women’s rights, and been recognized for her work in Icelandic…

Niels Erik Bank-Mikkelsen on his 75th birthday. Photo: Lis Hammild/LEV.

2021.07.06 | Biography, Anna Derksen, Minorities, The Nordics in the World

Niels Erik Bank-Mikkelsen (1919-1990)

Niels Erik Bank-Mikkelsen was a Danish policy reformer and advocate for the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities. Working for the so-called ‘Danish Service for the Mentally Retarded’ (Statens åndssvageforsorg), a public organisation for the care of intellectually or developmentally disabled people, he was instrumental in developing key…

Anna Lindh acting as Swedish minister of foreign affairs at an EU signing ceremony in 2003. This treaty welcomed ten new EU members including Cyprus and Estonia. Photo: Jan van de Vel, EC - Audiovisual Service.

2021.05.20 | Biography, Byron J. Nordstrom, Governance

Anna Lindh (1957-2003)

Anna Lindh was a Swedish Social Democratic politician and a rising star within the party. She took an active part in shaping policy regarding the Balkans and EU enlargement, for example, before she was fatally stabbed in 2003.

Vilgot Sjöman outside Folkets Bio Malmö in 1987. Photo: Jonn Leffmann, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0.

2021.03.19 | Biography, Lars Gustaf Andersson, The arts

Vilgot Sjöman 1924 - 2006

The Swedish novelist and film director Vilgot Sjöman was born in Stockholm in 1924. Sjöman’s output was extensive and included novels and essays as well as political statements and contributions to debates on moral topics; but first and foremost he was a film director.

Portrait photo of Mai Zetterling taken in 1948. Photo: K. W. Gullers, Nordiska museet. CC BY-NC-ND.

2021.02.19 | Biography, Lars Gustaf Andersson, The arts

Mai Zetterling 1925-1994

The Swedish actress and film director Mai Zetterling was born in Västerås in 1925. Having established herself as a popular actress in Swedish film, Zetterling moved to England where she acted in several films, among them 'Only Two Can Play' (1962) with Peter Sellers.

Bo Widerberg, 1968. Photo: Norrlandsbild/Bosse Emanuelsson. CC BY-NC.

2021.01.20 | Biography, Lars Gustaf Andersson, The arts

Bo Widerberg 1930 – 1997

The Swedish film director, drama director and novelist Bo Widerberg was born in Malmö in 1930. After several novels and collections of short stories, Widerberg published a collection of critical essays, 'Visionen i svensk film' (1962) (The Vision of Swedish film), in which he attacked Sweden’s insular film culture and promoted a new wave of…

Sally Salminen at her desk in 1960. Source: Hufvudstadsbladet, Public Domain.

2020.10.08 | Biography, Ulrika Gustafsson, Literature

Sally Salminen 1906–1976

Sally Salminen won a Finnish-Swedish literary prize for her novel 'Katrina' in the autumn of 1936 at a time when she was working as a maid in New York; it was the Great Depression and she had emigrated there six years earlier to work in wealthy households. It was a global sensation that someone like her, unknown and from the working class, could…

Danish writer Dorrit Willumsen at the Copenhagen Book Fair 'BogForum', November 2015, Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: Mogens Engelund (CC BY-SA 3.0)

2020.09.03 | Biography, Petra Broomans, Literature

Dorrit Willumsen (b. 1940)

Danish writer Dorrit Willumsen excels in historical, biographical novels.

Jan Eliasson in his capacity as United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, giving a speech in Somalia; he has worked on stabilising the country since 1992. Photo: AMISOM Public Information. Public Domain.

2020.07.28 | Biography, Jonathan Pugh, Governance

Jan Eliasson (b. 1940)

Jan Eliasson has been one of Sweden’s most prominent diplomats since as far back as the 1970s. Not only has he served in key roles for the Swedish Foreign Ministry and international organizations, but he is also renowned for his role as a mediator in numerous conflicts. His support for the concept of conflict prevention within the Swedish…

Greta Thunberg holding her original sign saying 'Skolstrejk för klimatet' [School strike for the climate]. Photo: Anders Hellberg, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

2020.06.22 | Biography, Pernille Almlund, Globalisation

Greta Thunberg – a climate activist

The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (born 2003) is in many ways a unique phenomenon and an inspiration to many activists all over the world, both children and adults, but she has also faced criticism from various quarters, not least climate change skeptics.

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