Fejan Forsslund was a cultural personality in Dala-Bergslagen, actively working in popular movements during the first half of the 1900s. She participated in the development of Brunnsviks folk high school from 1906 onwards, with her husband Karl-Erik Forsslund, an author.
Fejan (Sofia) Forsslund was born in 1867 at Sörvik near Ludvika. Her father Gustaf Öhman advanced from being a clerk to a works director. When he married Josephine Fredriksson, he was able to take over his parents-in-law’s manor farm Sörvik on Lake Väsman. Gustaf Öhman was energetic and bought up forests, foundries and mines. The household grew and five children were brought up on the farm.
Fejan Forsslund’s father became the district patriarch and Sörvik, that had been a ghost manor house, developed into a fairy-tale manor house. However, Fejan Forsslund longed to leave her home, that she experienced as being a tiny duckpond. She fell for her slightly younger cousin Karl-Erik Forsslund from Ljusnarsberg, who also came from a middle-class family. His father was a wholesaler in Bergslagen. Karl-Erik Forsslund studied the arts for a decade at Uppsala University and took his licentiate in 1897. After that he made his living as a journalist in Stockholm, among other things as a colleague of Albert Engström on the magazine Strix. The young couple became engaged in secret in 1894.
Fejan Forssberg was educated at home by governesses, but also attended school and took singing lessons in Örebro. After that she continued on to the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm for four years and received a thorough education as a singer. The wedding between Fejan and Karl-Erik Forsslund took place at midsummer in 1898 at Sörvik. The newly-weds moved into a foundry-owner’s homestead, Storgården, that was situated on a pretty promontary in Lake Väsman. The homestead had been purchased and put in order by Fejan Forsslund’s father. The Forsslund couple’s wedding present is reminiscent of Carl and Karin Larsson’s establishment at Sundborn. Wealthy, benevolent parents-in-law and gifted wives were things both Carl Larsson and Karl-Erik Forsslund benefitted greatly from and were inspired by. The Forsslund couple’s work contributed strongly to the dawning movement for nature protection and local community. In their home decoration, the Forsslunds were influenced by John Ruskin, William Morris and Ellen Key. The Christian church was replaced by nature as a temple and the symbolism of the cross was transferred to festivities around a maypole or Christmas tree.
Life at Storgården was however not only idyllic. Schnapps and brawls were rampant in the community. Attempts were made to curb them through temperance associations, reading circles and Folkets hus. A library association, lectures and a music band were started, also in the spirit of the times. Music, literature and theatre had interested the Forsslunds since their youth in Uppsala and Örebro. In 1906, Karl-Erik Forsslund, Gustaf Ankarcrona and Uno Stadius founded a folk high school in Brunnsvik, adjacent to Sörgården. The land was a gift from Gustaf Öhman.
The folk high school was to have a close relationship with the workers’ movement, and came to be something of a university for the younger generation of workers. Karl-Erik Forsslund was its principal in 1907–1912. Storgården acted now and then as the hotel for the school, and the social life centred on the Forsslund home was lively. Working at the folk high school was a way of life and of coming close to the younger generation.
However, Karl-Erik Forsslund longed nonetheless to be a free author once more and to dedicate himself seriously to nature and community conservation work. He identified strongly with his new community in Dala-Bergslagen and paid attention especially to the province of Dalarna. Karl-Erik Forsslund’s most comprehensive and significant work was a study of the river Dalälven’s course from its source to the sea: Med Dalälven från källorna till havet, in 27 volumes, written in 1919–1939.
Fejan Forsslund had been an obvious heroine in the novel Storgården. It was she who inspired the young man, already tired of life, to become a nature-worshipper and a home-lover. In reality, she participated in the activities of the folk high school, often with song recitals and theatricals. Fejan Forsslund took part in choosing the plays, directing them and creating the costumes and she was also herself a good actress. Above all, she was a trained singer. She was much loved by the pupils at the school, which was proved by the Brunnsvik students’ torchlight march to Storgården when she celebrated her 60th and 70th birthdays.
Fejan Forsslund was also a devoted crafts and domestic science teacher, assignments that often fell to the wives of folk high school principals. She was very sure stylistically and also interested in domestic crafts. Fejan Forsslund admired Ellen Key, who often visited Storgården. Beauty for all was practised by Fejan Forsslund in her creation of everyday beauty and party customs in the old foundry-owner’s homestead.
Alf Ahlberg, later principal at Brunnsviks folk high school, in his words of remembrance over Fejan Forsslund, emphasised her strong personality that seemed cast in one piece. She was a hard-working person who radiated happiness, security and love for other people. Storgården and Brunnsvik would have been unthinkable without the inspiration and support that Fejan Forsslund gave her husband. Even her very last years were marked by spiritual vitality. She kept her contact with the working class youth at Brunnsvik to the last. Fejan Forsslund had the capacity to live in the moment. She was strong-willed, effective and a great organiser.
Storgården’s and Brunnsvik’s brilliant hostess survived her husband by slightly less than eight years. Their shared life for more than four centuries came to be legendary as an unusually complete contribution for popular education and the youth movement in the new Sweden that was burgeoning during the founding years of the popular movements. Both have had booklets of remembrance dedicated to them by the association Brunnsvikarnas förbund.
Fejan Forsslund died at Storgården in 1949 at 82 years of age. She is buried in Lyviken Cemetery in Ludvika.