Maud Reuterswärd was a pioneer in radio and an author. She received several prizes for her children’s and youth books, including the Nils Holgersson-plakett and the Astrid Lindgren prize, which she received posthumously.
Maud Reuterswärd was born in Stockholm in 1920. She was the youngest of four siblings. When she was two years old her father Gustaf Reuterswärd became the executive director of Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå (TT, a news agency). Three years later he became the head of the newly established AB Radiotjänst. Maud Reuterswärd completed her schooling – including a period at the Whitlock coeducational school – and then trained to become a pre-school teacher at Södra KFUK’s educational institute, which had been established in 1934 and was one of the most eminent institutions in Sweden. The same year she enrolled there she also married the artist Armand Rossander. Later she would remarry to the carpenter Sigvard Näsström.
Maud Reuterswärd followed in her father’s footsteps with regard to her career, although there was a difference in that she as a radio employee worked outwards, towards the listeners. From 1944 right up until her death she remained active within radio, largely as a cultural editor. The multifaceted nature of her activities is striking. Nils-Olof Franzén, a radio colleague, said of her in a memorial: “Emotions and imagination, ability and skill, these were inextricably entwined in the career she had chosen. This was because to her, radio work was just like an author working on a book, a painter working on a canvas.” She had a presence through her radio voice – like many others who worked during the period sometimes referred to as the golden age of radio – which made it seem like she was speaking personally to each listener, simultaneously. In addition to making interviews, compiling reports and writing columns, she was also a producer.
Her most loved programme was “Endast mamma är vaken” (only mother is awake) which for 25 years was aired on the night before Christmas Eve. Of the thousands of other programmes that Maud Reuterswärd was responsible for perhaps the three most notable were when she gave birth to her third child, when she visited Auschwitz with one of her sons, and the series “Hon och han”, an experimental radio play written with Nils-Olof Franzén, and “Från förvisning till förvissning”, on women had been presented on the radio the past 50 years. Maud Reuterswärd also made several notable TV programmes, including the children’s series Dagarna med Knubbe, which is based on her own eponymously titled book.
Although there had been female radio presenters since 1929 – so-called “hallåor” – it was not until 1938 that the news was first presented by a woman in Dagens Eko, and this generated a lot of negative response from the listeners. Despite this initial setback, the precedent had been set. It was mainly post-1945 that the number of female reporters and producers markedly increased. Maud Reuterswärd’s efforts must be viewed against this background: she had the support of her bosses and colleagues in the radio service. Her significance became particularly evident when she was the sole woman to form part of the working group that was set up when the radio service gained a second channel in 1955.
Maud Reuterswärd made her written debut with a collection of causerie-style articles called Solvända, 1962. This catalysed her second career as an author. Her first children’s and youth book, Dahlbergs demonstrerar, 1969, was written with Rolf Knutsson. It was a book typical of its era, on demonstrations for environmental issues. Her subsequent works included such topics as the everyday life of boys, as in Dagar med Knubbe, 1970. Many of her books were about young women, such as the Elisabeth trilogy, which recounted a girl’s life from when she was six years old until she was a young woman. The common theme of Maud Reuterswärd’s work is her great interest in how people – especially the young – deal with emotional situations that arise in their lives, whether this be friendship and romance or illness and death. Later she also published two books described as easy reading for adults, a genre which emerged in Sweden in 1968 and became popular in 1970. Both of these books, Gunga i parken. En brevroman and Juni månad är lång. En brevroman were written together with Hans Peterson.
Maud Reuterswärd died in Stockholm in 1980.