"Impulsive actions led to trouble, and trouble could have unpleasant consequences."
Karl Stig-Erland “Stieg” Larsson (15 August 1954 – 9 November 2004) was a Swedish journalist and writer. He is best known for writing the Millennium trilogy of crime novels, which were published posthumously and adapted as motion pictures. Larsson lived much of his life in Stockholm and worked there in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism.
He was the second best-selling author in the world for 2008, behind Khaled Hosseini. The third novel in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, became the most sold book in the United States in 2010, according to Publishers Weekly. By March 2015, his series had sold 80 million copies worldwide.
Stieg Larsson was born on 15 August 1954, as Karl Stig-Erland Larsson, in Umeå, Västerbottens län, Sweden, where his father and maternal grandfather worked in the Rönnskärsverken smelting plant. Suffering from arsenic poisoning, his father resigned from his job, and the family subsequently moved to Stockholm. Due to their cramped living conditions there, they chose to let their one-year-old son, Stieg, remain behind with his grandparents. Stieg lived with his grandparents until the age of nine, near the village of Bjursele in Norsjö Municipality, Västerbotten County. Larsson lived with his grandparents in a small wooden house in the country, which he loved. He attended the village school and used cross-country skis to get to and from school during the long, snowy winters in northern Sweden.
In the book “There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me, Eva Gabrielsson describes this as Larsson’s motivation for setting part of his first novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in northern Sweden, which Gabrielsson calls “godforsaken places at the back of beyond.”
Larsson was not as fond of the urban environment in the city of Umeå, where he moved to live with his parents after his grandfather, Severin Boström, died of a heart attack at age 50. In 1974, Larsson was drafted into the Swedish Army, under the conscription law, and spent 16 months in compulsory military service, training as a mortarman in an infantry unit in Kalmar.
His mother Vivianne also died early, in 1991, from complications with breast cancer and an aneurysm.
On his twelfth birthday, Larsson’s parents gave him a typewriter as a birthday gift.
Larsson’s first efforts at writing fiction were not in the genre of crime, but rather science fiction. An avid science fiction reader from an early age, he became active in Swedish science fiction fandom around 1971; co-edited, together with Rune Forsgren, his first fanzine, Sfären, in 1972; and attended his first science fiction convention, SF•72, in Stockholm. Through the 1970s, Larsson published around 30 additional fanzine issues; after his move to Stockholm in 1971, he became active in the Scandinavian SF Society, where he was a board member in 1978 and 1979, and chairman in 1980.
In his first fanzines, 1972–74, he published a handful of early short stories, while submitting others to other semi-professional or amateur magazines. He was co-editor or editor of several science fiction fanzines, including Sfären and FIJAGH!; in 1978–79, he was president of the largest Swedish science-fiction fan club, Skandinavisk Förening för Science Fiction (SFSF). An account of this period in Larsson’s life, along with detailed information on his fanzine writing and short stories, is included in the biographical essays written by Larsson’s friend John-Henri Holmberg in The Tattooed Girl, by Holmberg with Dan Burstein and Arne De Keijzer, 2011.
In early June 2010, manuscripts for two such stories, as well as fanzines with one or two others, were noted in the Swedish National Library (to which this material had been donated a few years earlier, mainly by the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Foundation, which works to further science fiction fandom in Sweden). This discovery of what was called “unknown” works by Larsson generated considerable publicity.
Soon after Larsson’s death, the manuscripts of three completed, but unpublished, novels – written as a series – were discovered. He had written them for his own pleasure after returning home from his job in the evening, and had made no attempt to get them published until shortly before his death. These were published posthumously as the Millennium series.
The first book in the series was published in Sweden as Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor – literally – Men who hate women (2005). It was titled for the English-language market as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and published in the United Kingdom in February 2008. It was awarded the Glass Key award as the best Nordic crime novel in 2005.
His second novel, Flickan som lekte med elden (2006, The Girl Who Played with Fire), received the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award in 2006 and was published in the United Kingdom in January 2009.
The third novel, Luftslottet som sprängdes (“The Air Castle That was Blown Up”), published in English as The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, was published in the United Kingdom in October 2009 and the United States in May 2010.
Larsson left about three quarters of a fourth novel on a notebook computer, now possessed by his partner, Eva Gabrielsson: synopses or manuscripts of the fifth and sixth in the series, which he intended to comprise an eventual total of ten books, may also exist. Gabrielsson has stated in her book, “There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me (2011) that finishing the book is a task she is capable of doing.
In 2013, Swedish publisher Norstedts contracted David Lagercrantz, a Swedish author and journalist, to continue the Millennium series. Lagercrantz did not have access to the material in Gabrielsson’s possession, which remains unpublished. The book was published in August 2015 in connection with the 10-year anniversary of the series, under the Swedish title is Det som inte dödar oss (literal English translation: That Which Does Not Kill Us); the English title is The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Two further novels by Lagercrantz have been announced by the publisher.
- 2006 – Glass Key award, Män som hatar kvinnor.
- 2006 – Best Swedish Crime Novel Award, Flickan som lekte med elden.
- 2008 – ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for International Author of the Year, UK, for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
- 2008 – Exclusive Books Boeke Prize, South Africa, for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
- 2009 – Galaxy British Book Awards, Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year, UK, for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
- 2009 – Anthony Award, Best First Novel, for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
- 2009 – General Council of the Judiciary, Spain, for his contribution to the fight against domestic violence.
- 2010 – USA Today’s Author of the Year.
Stieg Larsson was the first author to sell more than one million e-books on Amazon.com