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Vilhelm Moberg

The author Vilhelm Moberg was born on August 20, 1898 in a soldier's tenant farm just outside the village of Moshultamåla in Algutsboda parish in the province of Småland. The forest, stony farmlands, the perseverance of poor people and the defiance of unjust authority distinguishes his writings as well as his own life.

Vilhelm Moberg
"The soldier's shack was situated on a hill in the middle of the woods, a mixed forest of evergreens and deciduous trees. A few acres of cultivated fields surrounded it. Nature here was basically unchanged since the creation of time." This is the description of his childhood home as Moberg himself writes in his book, Berättelser ur min levnad (Stories from my life).

A soldier's tenant farm was built by farmers in each military district. The army divided the entire country into these districts and each had a soldier to billet. As salary for their defense of the country, the soldier was provided with a roof over his head, a tract of land to cultivate when he was not out on training maneuvers, and an agreed upon sum, from the wealthier farmers in the department, to pay for meals.

According to the statutes, a soldier's tenant farm should measure eight meters long, five meters wide with a two meter ceiling. The interior ceiling should be well sealed so that the house would remain warm and dry. The tenement should have a stove and a baking oven.

That was it and it was not much. But it had to suffice especially for several residents, chiefly because these families often had many children.

The place of Vilhelm Moberg's birth
© Sune Ekstrand
The croft where Moberg was born is long gone. It was torn down in 1924. To commemorating the place, a rounded slab of granite was erected and which was dedicated while Moberg was still alive. Moberg refused to come to the ceremony, and indeed hissed angrily that he was not dead yet!

And despite the fact that the Moberg family eventually left the little soldier's cabin by the stream in the forest and moved to the village, it is the cottage with the grass roof in the middle of the woods of Småland which remains the author's place in the world. Even those characters we meet in The Emigrants books come from just this type of persevering, god-fearing, tenacious, chronically impoverished people who lived in this region. As Moberg himself wrote as his reason for continually returning to these "cottage folks, people with wooden shoes":
"I want to awaken past lives. I want to vanquish the forces that ravaged and devastated, I want to recall the past and the bygone. I want to render this hill cottage and its creatures life. This little world will again exist. I want to recreate it."

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