Penwoman is the classic novel about the Swedish women’s suffrage movement. Originally published in 1910, this was Elin Wägner’s second novel. Having begun her career as a journalist, she went on to become one of Sweden’s leading writers, her prolific output developing radical feminist and feminist-pacifist tendencies.
The novel, whose central character is a young female journalist, offers exceptional insights into the dedicated work and strong sense of sisterhood uniting a group of women campaigning for suffrage. But it also explores a range of other issues affecting the situation of women in Sweden at the time, from the role of paid work to matters of morality, eroticism and love. The refreshingly disrespectful and witty style has helped make the novel one of Wägner’s most enduringly popular.
Sarah Death is a multi-prizewinning translator of Swedish literature. She has translated work by Victoria Benedictsson, Fredrika Bremer, Kerstin Ekman, Selma Lagerlöf, Sven Lindqvist and many others.
Read an extract here.