Marianne Höök was a controversial journalist, columnist and polemicist, known for her witty and fearless voice in both the printed press and on the radio. She has been described as “a steely-sharp pennskaft (female journalist)” and as “a sharp-tongued girl with one stiletto heel in the Foreign Ministry and the other at Aftonbladet”.
Marianne Höök spent her early childhood years in a nonconformist home with her maternal grandparents in Sunne following her mother’s death when Marianne was just 6 months old. Her mother had killed herself as a result of what today would be termed post-natal depression. At the age of five Marianne Höök was taken home to her father in Västerås. There she was cared for by a nanny and a housekeeper as her father was often abroad for work as part of his job as boss of ASEA. Marianne got good grades at the Västerås girls’ school which gave her great prospects for future success, but her early childhood trauma marked her for the rest of her life. Despite her outwardly luminous career as a writer and a beautiful fashion icon she attempted suicide on several occasions.
In 1938 Marianne married Håkan Höök-Nilsson, a lieutenant in the air force at Karlsborg, and they had two children together. A few years later, when the Swedish nation was on a war footing, Karlsborg served as the site for a film starring all the famous names of the Swedish industry. The contacts Marianne Höök made at that time would facilitate her career path as a writer, which she began after her divorce left her as a single mother. Following a stint as a continuity editor for a film company Marianne began to work for the Åhlen & Åkerlund company in 1946, first for the weekly journal Vårt Hem, and then for Vecko-Journalen. Marianne Höök contributed reviews of films and books, wrote biographies of authors and contemporary persons of the cultural scene, as well as writing causerie-style articles and reporting on celebrities. After Stalin had died she also went on comprehensive journeys with the photographer Georg Oddner to report on the Soviet Union. In these reports Marianne Höök portrayed the contrasts between the old and the new Russian society. Similar trips were undertaken to Greece, Japan and China. The material from some of the journeys was later republished in Oddner’s photography book, Genomresa, which came out in 2003.
In 1947 Marianne Höök remarried to film director Torgny Wickman. They settled in Blockhusudden in Djurgården, Stockholm. When she 10 years later, the same year that they divorced, began to work for Svenska Dagbladet with the same responsibilities she’d had at Vecko-Journalen, her exclusive address and weakness for beautiful clothes gave the impression that Höök was a sophisticated and fashionable reporter. She then married the ambassador Dick Hichens Bergström in Teheran in 1961 and became a diplomat’s wife. For all that, women’s issues and equality were recurring themes in her writing. Marianne Höök’s social activism grew when she travelled to India to report on the Social Democratic Prime Minister Tage Erlander’s trip there, and through visits to Pakistan, Persia and Afghanistan, where she was exposed to poverty and female oppression first-hand. Her writing became increasingly critical and challenging, and in 1967 she transferred to the Social Democratic evening paper Aftonbladet for which she wrote much-appreciated columns and articles right up until her death.
In parallel with her journalism Marianne Höök also translated more than 20 English plays, such as Shelagh Delayney’s A Taste of Honey (Doft av honung, 1967) and Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park (Barfota i parken, 1965), as well as books by James Thurber, Charlotte Bingham and Lionel Davidson, among others. In 1962 she released her own book on Ingmar Bergman’s films, simply entitled Ingmar Bergman.
From the early 1950s until 1970 Marianne Höök was also a familiar voice on the radio where she not only had her own music programme but was frequently a guest on both radio and television debates and entertainment programmes.
Marianne Höök ended her life in 1970. She is buried at Sunne cemetery.