Marianne Eriksson was an editor and publisher of children’s books.
Marianne Eriksson was born in 1924 in Skållerud in the province of Dalsland. Her parents were Hulda Erika Andersson and David Videll. Her father worked as a fitter and electrician. Marianne Eriksson worked with children’s books for most of her life. She was employed by the Kooperativa Förbundets Bokförlag as a secretary in the economy section in 1952. However, she started reading and editing manuscripts and was soon given assignments by the children’s publishers Rabén & Sjögren, where she worked for almost 40 years. She progressed to the role of editor early on, as which one of her first assignments was the children’s magazine Klumpe Dumpe.
At the beginning of her publishing career, Marianne Eriksson landed up in the midst of the “golden age authors”, in which group famous names included like Harry Kullman, Lennart Hellsing, Edith Unnerstad, Åke Holmberg and Astrid Lindgren, who also worked at the publishing company. During her time at Rabén & Sjögren, Marianne Eriksson worked first as Astrid Lindgren’s assistant and in 1970 she succeeded her as head of children’s books. Apart from having the role of Astrid Lindgren’s publisher, she was also her close friend. Later they both used the shared pseudonym Marianne Lindgren for translations, for among others the book series about Nicke Nyfiken. In Rabén & Sjögren’s fiftieth jubilee chronicle, Astrid Lindgren describes her colleague as single-minded and skilful, basing her work on the thought that a good book should be like a pike: “With a sharp and pointy nose, then a nutritious section and finally a flick of the tail”.
Children’s books under Marianne Eriksson’s leadership were the centre of gravity of the publishing company’s production. Political children’s books had just made their breakthrough, among them Annika Elmqvist’s Sprätten satt på toaletten in 1970. Marianne Eriksson worked during the 1960s on translating several of the company’s foreign children’s books. During her time as head she also especially continued developing the translations and picture books – despite the expense of illustrations. Right from the start of her time at Rabén & Sjögren, she learned how important it was to have good illustrations and that was the foundation of her great interest in this aspect.
Through thorough work, Marianne Eriksson always strove to publish the best stories and illustrations. She was not afraid of beginner authors and debutants, but always showed them great confidence. This resulted among other things in the twenty-one-year-old Lisbeth Pahnke’s debut with the successful series about Britta and Silver. In the discussions during the 1980s about the aims of children’s literature, Marianne Eriksson was a strong voice. In her opinion, different kinds of children’s literature should all find a place, both the kinds that described reality as it is and the kinds that presented other visions, among them reality as it ought to be. However, in her view children’s books that attempted to form children after a certain ideology were dangerous if they were not good. Publishers cannot control in detail how authors should create their characters, according to her. The requirement for formative children’s literature would only lead to insipid publications.
After her retirement from Rabén & Sjögren in 1989, she and the author Barbro Lindgren started the children’s and young people’s publishing company Eriksson & Lindgrens Bokförlag AB. Apart from Barbro Lindgren’s own books, they published among others Eva Eriksson, Viveca Lärn, Gunilla Bergström, Inger and Lasse Sandberg and Pernilla Stalfelt. Marianne Eriksson worked as the publishing company’s director for almost 20 years until it was transferred to Rabén & Sjögren in 2008, but she continued to be Lennart Hellsing’s publisher.
During her working life, Marianne Eriksson experienced great changes in the publishing field. She reacted against the greater emphasis and focus on profits at the beginning of the 2000s, instead of on beginner authors. At the same time she experienced that the profession of author, already rather lonely, became even more so as it became more and more unusual for authors to visit their publishers as frequently as before.
During her professional life, Marianne Eriksson shared her expertise generously and often in the press, media, discussions, juries, panels and seminars. Her professional knowledge and dedication were obvious. Marianne Eriksson advocated the love of reading and fantasy, and never to forget the importance of a skilful editor.
Marianne Eriksson died when she was 95 years of age in 2020, after a brief period of illness with covid-19.