Ester Lindin was an elementary school teacher and the author of the bestselling novel Tänk, om jag gifter mig med prästen! The book was not only a prize-winner, but was translated into several languages, and turned into a film, and it gave rise to serious public debate.
Ester Lindin was born in Norrköping in 1890. She had five siblings. She trained to become an elementary school teacher and was active as such until she retired in 1955. She never married.
Ester Lindin made her debut as a novelist when she was fifty years old. Her first book won the first prize in a Scandinavian novel competition based on the theme of “contemporary career women” and the following year, in 1940, her book was published. The first edition of Tänk, om jag gifter mig med prästen! sold 48,000 copies, which meant that it was labelled a bestseller, and several further editions followed.
The novel was immediately turned into a film with two star actors in the leading roles, namely Viveca Lindfors as Eva, the teacher, and Georg Rydeberg as the priest. The story became a major discussion topic as it appeared to promote the idea of free love – Eva does not marry the priest in the end, although she falls pregnant with his child. However, the book’s actual main point is to highlight the rights of unmarried mothers, above all, and the idea that “illegitimate” children are just as legitimate as those born within a marriage.
Ester Lindin herself stated that the novel was not primarily written in order to defend children who were born outside of marriage, but rather to encourage fathers to take responsibility: “I wanted the priest to marry Eva Örn – the fact that he didn’t is the greatest injustice toward the child.” When the priest refuses to marry the, as described in the novel, “unclean woman” (meaning that he had been sexually intimate with the woman before marriage), then he should at least have offered her financial support. But he refuses this too. Eva thanks those women’s issues activists for campaigning for a child welfare authority and financial aid for mothers, which had created supportive social shoulders for unmarried mothers to rely on.
The novel was translated into several European languages, including German, right in the middle of the ongoing Second World War. An interesting fact is that the novel was re-titled when the same translation was subsequently re-released in Germany. In 1942 it was called Eva und die Gemeinde (Eva and society), whereas in 1950 it was re-titled Eva oder das grosse Ärgernis (Eva, or the great offence). This can be interpreted as though the later German edition placed emphasis on the priest’s malicious behaviour from a feminist perspective instead of, as in the earlier edition, alluding to the benefit of producing more Aryan children, despite the fact that outwardly it seems to be Eva who commits the greatest offence.
This first novel must, however be seen as Ester Lindin’s only genuine success as her ensuing publications didn’t generate anywhere near as much reaction. Det är inte lätt att vara barn, 1941, is a childhood tale whilst the novels Tre blommiga täcken, 1946, and Ta i famn, 1952, are also polemical stories in the manner in which they present women’s lives and experiences.
Ester Lindin remained loyal to her town of birth, Norrköping, throughout her life. She is one of the great authors of that town who subsequently became forgotten in Swedish literary history. She died in 1991.