Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt was a translator who was known for being a learned woman.
Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt was born on Utö in 1704. She was the youngest of five siblings. Her mother was of noble heritage, including links to the Scottish Gladstone family, whilst her father was the son of a corporal and a member of the peasantry. Her father had made a career of working in the quarries and became director of the Utö quarries. From 1723 onwards he owned the entire island, with all its quarries and farms. The family also owned land on the mainland, but were primarily settled at Edesnäs farmhouse, also known as Utö farm, where they maintained an extensive household.
Wilhelmina Stålberg remarked upon Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt’s “thorough education and extensive knowledge” but it remains a mystery as to what led to this view. Whilst Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt’s three brothers all enrolled at Uppsala university she and her sister would have – at best – benefited from a solid home education during their childhoods. It was the norm that the daughters of better-off families were home-educated and that the subject matters were limited to a certain level of linguistic studies and conversational skills. As long as one’s family permitted it, girls could undertake further studies through self-directed learning or through tutoring. Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt married relatively late on, implying that in the meantime she may have undertaken her own studies. In 1732 Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt did get married, then aged 28, to the historian Anders Anton Stiernman. A couple of years later their daughter Andreetta Catharina was born and she was their only child. They lived in Stockholm where Anders Anton Stiernman made a career for himself as an archivist, eventually becoming head of Riksarkivet (the national archives).
It remains unclear as to how many translations Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt actually completed. Only one published item which bears her name (Anna Cath. v. Stiernman) has survived. It was posthumously published the year after her death. This is a translation of a Danish piece of edification entitled Gileads salfwa emot dödsens sår, authored by Michael Sørensen Leigh. The publication which bears her name also includes her translation of Menniskians Dag och Natt, Lif och Död, also by the same Danish author. The publisher further appended a couple of poems in memory of Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt, commemorating her passing. These were penned by her husband Anders Anton Stiernman and Henrik Anders Löfvenskiöld.
Later on Anders Anton Stiernman lauded his wife’s erudition in an essay entitled “Anmärkningar om några lärda och namnkunniga svenska fruentimmer”. This essay mentions facts such as her “insight into languages and wisdom and that she, whilst ill, engaged her thoughts on the most important of subjects”. The latter refers to her translations of the aforenoted religious meditations. Stiernman’s essay was published anonymously and in somewhat edited form in the journal Stockholms magazin in 1780. For this reason the editor of the journal, Magnus Swederus, is often named as the author.
It has erroneously been claimed, in Nordisk kvinnolitteraturhistoria and elsewhere, that Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt wrote an appendix for the Swedish edition of Gileads salfwa emot dödsens sår. This appendix apparently comprised a story about Christiana Oxenstierna’s scandalous love affair with and marriage to the priest Nicolaus Bergius. The information is obviously based on a conflation: the Oxenstierna story is actually included in “Anmärkningar om några lärda och namnkunniga svenska fruentimmar” published in Stockholms magazin in 1780.
Anna Catharina Wefwerstedt died in Stockholm in 1753.