My latest book – the story of the Grönstedt family from Dalarna who made their home in Saltsjöbaden – in Swedish – is now available from the author See below.
The book tells the story of Karl and Maria Grönstedt who settled in Saltsjöbaden where Stockholm meets the Baltic Sea in the early years of the 20th century. They found a large house called Majgården and soon filled it with many children. It is also the story about their ancestors from Dalarna, generations of soldiers, who later made the journey from the countryside to the big city in the 19th century, when times were hard for many Swedish people and millions emigrated. It is difficult for us, Karl and Maria’s grandchildren, to understand and appreciate how close we came to not being here at all.
I am one of those grandchildren and my interest was first of all in a painting which is now in my home here in London. I inherited this picture from my mother Karin and she from her mother, Maria Grönstedt. My research was from the beginning focused on the painting’s journey from Venice sometime in the early 18th century to London and then to a palace in Scotland, back to a huge auction in London and then onwards in the world until it ended up in the house in Saltsjöbaden 1927. How had that happened?
There was much to research regarding the painting’s journey, this took me to Venice and Verona, and led to many days of reading in the library at the Victoria and Albert Museum and on the internet. The result was the book about the painting, Finding Veronese, still available as an E-book on Amazon. The trail had finally led to Stockholm and among my cousins’ photographs and their memories I discovered more about our grandparents’ life. So this became my next project and the more I found out, the more I realised that their life story reflected a period of Swedish history when many people were poor and sickly but some were brave and adventurous, taking risks and finally prospering. There was much in the story of our family that we could be proud of and that many others would recognise as their own.
I found inspiration among my cousins, and siblings, from photographs and church archives, some letters, and also from the books about Stockholm, written by Per Anders Fogelström, which my mother had given me when I left my home city. I read the books again and again during this time and learnt a lot. It became clear during my research that Maria’s father Alfred and Karl’s father Frans Knut came to Stockholm around 1870 with nothing, but with some advantages that others did not have. This made it possible for them to establish themselves in the growing city, seek inspiration from the increasing population, meet their needs for clothes, food and housing, and thus create capital for the future. My admiration for them and for the women who supported them is immeasurable.
Från Dalarna till Saltsjöbaden – Familjen Grönstedts historia (64 pages) is available by post from Ylva French, firstname.lastname@example.org – price 150 Swedish kronor or £15 including postage and packing.