Catharina Christina Uddén was a writer who wrote poetry, plays, songs, and commemorative texts.
Catharina Christina Uddén was born in Linköping in 1762. She was the daughter of Johan Ekmark, a manufacturer, and Catharina Ekner. In 1792 she married Johan Uddén, who at that time was an assistant pastor of St Jakob parish in Stockholm. The couple settled in Stockholm and had four children in the 1794–1803 period. Following Johan Uddén’s appointment as parson of Söderhamn the family moved there in 1809. The couple became leading figures in the small town.
At this time the social life of the town bourgeoisie was lively and rich. Their homes served as meeting points for their friends and acquaintances in get-togethers and all kinds of festivities. In addition to food and drink there would be singing, games, reading aloud, and dancing. Taking part in these activities was not only fun but also served to create and maintain one’s social standing and position within local society.
Catharina Christina Uddén, as a parson’s wife, was expected to play a role in the rituals of social life, such as marking a child’s baptism, birthdays, and weddings. What was unusual for a woman in her position was that she also contributed to these gatherings through her poetry. This was noted in the book entitled Familj-Gåfvan eller Stycken egnade åt högtidligheter inom Familjerna, jemte andra Vitterhets-Försök, published in 1819 under the name of C.C.U. The book comprises odes, funerary epitaphs, song lyrics, guessing games for charades, and short plays to be performed in a salon. Many of these items are dedicated to particular people and specific occasions. For example, a special song was written in honour of the recuperation of “Bataljon-Predikant U” (battalion chaplain U) following a serious illness, and the play Sorgen för Glädjen går was performed at the parsonage of “M-ö”, on “Carls dag” (Carl day).
Catharina Christina Uddén’s attempts at belles-lettres include narrative poetry or ballads. One example of this is “Thilda Eller den vaknande känslan”, which tells of a girl experiencing her first erotic impulses. When Thilda catches sight of some birds being amorous a feeling is awoken which “stirred in her breast / the first inkling of nature”. She longs to experience carnal love. The ballad ends with the young woman in tears, after she has “to nature’s joy” experienced the bliss of love.
According to the norms of the day a budding poet was supposed to apologise for their failings and Catharina Christina Uddén expresses her reflections on her limited worth as a poet in the foreword to her book. Nevertheless a great element of feminist clarity shines through here. She explains that she did not have the opportunity to gather “the treasures of brilliance” because due to her “sex and external circumstances she has been denied […] enlightenment”. From time to time she has had the chance to give into her inspiration although “a threatening raised finger of women’s duties” quickly put an end to her creativity. Thus “what else could come of it but an incompleteness?” she asks, rhetorically. “At one point my sex was forever assigned bagatelles”.
That people were interested in what Catharina Christina Uddén wrote is revealed by the lengthy subscription list which is printed in the book. Around 400 people in Kristianstad, Stockholm, Uppsala, and other places, had registered as future purchasers of her book, thereby guaranteeing that it would be printed.
Catharina Christina Uddén died in Söderhamn in 1821.