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Stieg Larsson was the Swedish author best known for his Millenium novels, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
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Born in 1954 in Sweden, Stieg Larsson was a lifelong leftist, and a journalist for anti-fascist and communist publications. It was his fiction writing, however, that propelled Larsson to fame. The Millenium trilogy, starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005), became international bestsellers, adapted into films in Sweden and the United States. Larsson didn't live to see the enormous success of his novels— he died of a heart attack in 2004,
but his books still top the bestseller lists.
Novelist. Born Karl Stig-Erland Larsson on August 15, 1954 in Skelleftehamn, a small town in the Vasterbotten region of northeast Sweden, about 400 miles north of Stockholm. For the first nine years of his life, Larsson was raised by his maternal grandparents. He would later cite his grandfather, a committed political activist who had been imprisoned during World War II for opposing the Nazis, as an especially influential role model. Larsson's grandfather passed away, however, when Stieg was only nine years old, at which time the boy moved in with his father, Erland Larsson, and his younger brother Joakim.
Stieg Larsson's favorite childhood pastime was reading, especially favoring the works of the English children's writer Enid Blyton and of Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish author of his favorite book, The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking. Larsson's parents were also avid lover of fiction, particularly fond of the crime novels of Maj Sjowall and the detective fiction of Mickey Spillane, both authors who would leave strong imprints on Larsson's later writing. Before long, Larsson began writing his own stories; at the age of 12, he completed his first attempt at writing a novel. "When Stieg was 12 I read a novel he had written in a notebook," his father later recalled. "It was then that we gave him a typewriter—it was his thirteenth birthday and I remember it was very expensive at that time. It was also very noisy, so we had to make space for him in the cellar. He would write in the cellar and come up for meals, but at least we could sleep at night."
Coming of age during the Vietnam War, Larsson set aside fiction during his adolescence to focus on politics and journalism. "Stieg was young and leaning toward the Left," his father later recalled. "In Sweden at the time, in every town in Sweden, on every Saturday, young people would be marching shouting, 'Out of Vietnam!' Stieg was one of those young people, and he started writing about the Vietnam War." His parents were also deeply political—his father was a Communist and his mother was a prominent Social Democrat. Stieg Larsson's father said, "We discussed politics at some length at the dinner table. When Stieg was fourteen I found myself losing an argument in a discussion with him. He just had better arguments than his mother or I."
In fact, it was at a 1972 anti-Vietnam protest rally that an 18-year-old Larsson met a young woman named Eva Gabrielsson. Gabrielsson was an architectural historian and, like Larsson, a political activist.
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