Eva von Zweigbergk was an important reviewer of children’s books who worked for Dagens Nyheter. She was the author of a work entitled Barnboken i Sverige 1750-1950, published in 1965, which was the first ever history of Swedish children’s literature.
Eva von Zweigbergk was born in 1906. She was literally born into a journalists’ household. Her mother, Annastina Alkman, was a journalist and a translator and had worked for both Dagens Nyheter and Göteborgs-Posten whilst her father, Edvard Alkman, had initially worked as a reviewer for Dagens Nyheter and then became editor-in-chief of Göteborgs-Posten. Her father was also interested in translation work and produced translations of Oscar Wilde.
Eva von Zweigbergk became associated with Dagens Nyheter in 1929 and worked for the paper as a journalist until 1969. Before that her activities had included spending a term at the Valand school of art in Gothenburg and gaining a Bachelor’s degree at Uppsala university in 1927, where she read English and history of art.
Eva von Zweigbergks’ comprehensive journalistic efforts must be seen against the background of an expansion of women’s roles within the sphere of journalism as well as in the wider labour market. The new laws facilitating working conditions for women during the 1930s had contributed to this growth in female employment. Eva on Zweigbergk was remarkably versatile: she wrote about many subjects, including art, handicrafts, literature, ballet, film, town-planning, and the urban environment. Her involvement in the 1930 Stockholm exhibition, for which she wrote about handicrafts, led to her developing a greater interest in architecture. Her articles on the subject can be said to have introduced the genre of architectural reporting to the Swedish daily press. The city represented a major subject within her articles: she covered everything from day-care centres to housing improvements and fit-for-purpose schools and wider developments within city construction work. A clear testament to the diligence and intensity with which she viewed the city was the fact that in 1977 she was awarded the Stockholm city special prize.
Eva von Zweigbergk was put in charge of Dagens Nyheter’s dedicated women’s page in 1937. The newspaper had run such a page since 1923. She also provided literary reviews and, from the mid-1930s onwards, she was allocated the children’s literature section. She retained this allocation until 1958 when she – at her own request – was transferred to the cultural editorial board. Eva von Zweigbergk also wrote causerie-style columns for the newspaper under the byline of Colomba.
Eva von Zweigbergk’s written output also includes a couple of illustrated books, namely Johans jul, published in 1946 and illustrated by Birger Lundquist, and Oskar katt, illustrated by Sven Ljungberg and published in 1963. Eva von Zweigbergk also served on the editorial board of the Nordic children’s book anthology, Barndomslandet, published 1963–1965. Her particular journalistic interests also found expression in books such as the 1956 Stockholmspromenader, and Hemma hos Carl Larssons, published in 1968. She also produced documentaries from abroad, such as the 1947 Hur var det i Amerika?, Upptäcktsfärd i Skottland, published in 1958, and the 1960 publication Hur var det i Indien?. She also produced a handful of translations, including one of a French book on children’s literature by Paul Hazard, translated as Böcker, barn och vuxna and published in 1955.
Eva von Zweigbergk was rigorous in expressing her own views and judgements in her reviews of children’s books. Just like Greta Bolin, the children’s book reviewer for Svenska Dagbladet, Eva von Zweigbergk was a leading figure within the sphere of children’s literature at a time when the Swedish children’s book was enjoying a breakthrough with the public, namely during the 1940s. She edited the Barn och böcker anthology, published in 1945, which was primarily aimed at parents and was printed in several editions.
Lena Kåreland’s study of Eva von Zweigbergk’s critical reviews posits the view that von Zweigbergk represented a traditional approach to children’s literature albeit she was not opposed to modernist tendencies as a whole. The special interest of her journalism probably formed the background to her frequently expressed desires for new topics to be covered in youth literature, including so-called ‘modern’ subjects: working life, town environments, and social problems. Indeed these topics did begin to emerge within youth literature towards the late 1940s and it is likely that Eva von Zweigbergk’s efforts to highlight them played a part in this.
Eva von Zweigbergk died in Stockholm in 1984.