Margareta Suber was a journalist and an author. Her first novel, published in 1932, is considered to be the first Swedish novel with a lesbian lead character.
Margaret Suber was born in Linköping in 1892. Having gained her Bachelor’s degree at Uppsala University she went on to work as a journalist for Stockholms Dagblad and Svenska Dagbladet. Her first publication was a children’s book called Mor berättar för sina små, 1923, which was followed by further children’s books and translations of children’s books. During this period Margareta Suber’s married name was Topelius. She had three children during her marriage to Göran Topelius, which lasted from 1918 until 1931.
Margareta Suber’s first adult novel was Charlie, which she published after her divorce. According to her son the book was inspired by her real-life experiences: “As it happens, my two sisters and I were spending a summer at the continental beaches of Hanko with our mother when Charlie appeared, a charming, warm, boyish character who owned a red sports car, a puppy and travelling gramophone which played the latest hits – we children quite naturally adored her.”
This charming person plays the lead character in the novel. Charlie falls in love with Sara, a young widow who is at the beach with her two young children. Despite being rejected by Sara, Charlie gains an insight into her own homosexual inclination. In contrast to other contemporary works, Charlie presents a light and positive image of same-sex desire. The novel is often compared to Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, 1928, which was released in a Swedish translation the same year that Charlie was published. The lesbian lead character of the English-language classic is, however, a tragic figure.
Charlie was translated into English and released in Great Britain in 1934 as part of a two-volume set called Two Women which included Margareta Suber’s second novel Ett helsicke för en man, first published in 1933. Like her third novel from the 1930s, Du står mig emot, 1939, the theme is heterosexual relationship issues. Margareta Suber never returned to the theme of homosexual love after Charlie.
During the Second World War Margareta Suber opposed Nazism and her novel Vänd ditt ansikte till mig, 1942, confronts both anti-Semitism and Nazism. Margareta Suber’s remaining novels from the war years and the following years are Jonna, 1940, Inga änglavingar, 1943, Mott rött ljus, 1945, and Alla bära de svärd, 1947. In addition to her books, during the 1950s Margareta Suber also served as the chair of the Swedish PEN-club, and vice-chair of Sveriges Författarförbund (Swedish authors’ association). She also published a short story collection entitled Musikanter på livstid in 1950 and the novels De otrogna, 1953 and Äkta paret ut, 1958. She released her second collection of short stories in 1965 entitled Ångest och dårskap. Her novel Leva på italienska was published in 1976. Margareta Suber also released two collections of poetry; Allt som närmar sig and Böljegång were both published in 1980. In addition to making a significant number of literary translations she also wrote popular travelogues. She spent several years living in Sardinia, but she also wrote accounts of Bulgaria, France, Morocco, and Algeria. Margareta Suber was both well travelled and linguistically proficient, and she fought against all types of prejudice throughout her life.
Margareta Suber died in 1984.