Célie Brunius was an author and a journalist. She focused on issues of daily life in her work, particularly on matters relating to women, and she is considered to have been a precursor of the modern publicist.
Célie Brunius was born in Uppsala into a family with high academic and artistic ambitions. Her father was Professor Per Teodor Cleve and her mother was the author Alma Öbohm Cleve. One of her sisters, Astrid Cleve, was the first woman in Sweden to obtain a doctorate in the natural sciences, while another sister, Agnes Cleve was a visual artist. Célie Brunius was homeschooled but also attended a course at Handarbetets Vänner (the Friends of Handicraft). From 1902 to 1903 she studied languages and art in Italy, as well as travelling in France. In 1908 she married the author and journalist August Brunius (1879-1926) and in the years between 1909 and 1922 she gave birth to six children: Kerstin 1909, Göran 1911, Ulla 1914, Anja 1916, Clas 1920 and Teddy 1922.
In 1905 her father died and Célie Brunius became forced to provide for herself financially, which she did by writing. Her first job was in the literary section of P A Norstedt & Söners publishing house in Stockholm. Shortly thereafter she was employed by Svenska Dagbladet, where her salary was the double the amount of what she had received at the publishers’. Like many other female journalists she started with translation tasks and so-called minor articles. One of her first assignments included writing a fashion article for every Sunday edition. She was also interested in, and often wrote about, interior design. The years of deprivation during the First World War led to new working methods: the newspaper organized, amongst other things, sewing courses, mushroom exhibits, and demonstrations of how to use food substitutes. These were followed up by advice columns and investigations into how to obtain basic items of necessity; thus, coverage of daily life became a new element of newspaper stories. In the summer of 1917 Célie Brunius took a sabbatical in order to run her household by herself, managing the house, her husband and, at the time, four children. Her book, Sin egen tjänare: husliga studier (“Be your own provider: household-studies”), 1917, describes every aspect of running a household in a way that can be read both as cultural analysis and as an example of investigative journalism.
In 1920 Célie Brunius stopped working at Svenska Dagbladet and started writing for Stockholms-Tidningen and for the weekly Husmodern. Her career as a journalist for the daily press ended when she took on the role of fashion editor for the newly-established Bonniers Veckotidning (a weekly journal) in 1923, where she soon became editor-in-chief. She continued working as an editor for Bonniers Månadstidning after it had become a monthly journal.
Célie Brunius became a widow in 1926, with six children from 4 to 17 years old. They lived in the house her husband had built on the island Lidingö, where Célie remained for the rest of her life. She had been a member of the Lidingö community council but left the council after her husband’s death. She continued her work as editor of the weekly and later monthly journal until the end of the 1930s, at which point she took on other jobs and less committing work. She wrote two books: Frankrike väntar, 1944, covering the time she spent with her daughter – then living in France – during the war, and Lyssna till tystnaden, 1952, describing her life, work and marriage to August Brunius.
Célie Brunius had since her youth been friends with women who were in the female journalists’ circle called Ligan (“the gang”). In her later years she took on various roles within different associations. Not only was she one of the founders of the Yrkeskvinnors (“working women’s”) club in Stockholm, but she was also the chairperson of the Yrkeskvinnors national association. Célie was also a board member of Publicistklubben from 1939 to 1945 and active on behalf of Rädda Barnen (Save the Children) in various ways during the 1940s. Further, she was a member of Kvinnoföreningars Radiokommitté and contributed to several radio programmes. Just like her parents Célie was part of the cultural elite and she had access to a very large network of contacts among the intellectuals of her time.
Célie Brunius died in 1980 at the age of 98.