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Stieg Larsson | Biography

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Early Life

Stieg Larsson was born Karl Stig-Erland Larsson on August 15, 1954, in Skelleftehamn, Sweden, to young, impoverished parents. He was raised by his maternal grandparents for the first nine years of his life. Larsson's grandfather, Severin Boström, had been imprisoned for anti-Nazi ideals during World War II (1939–45) and thus raised his grandson with a strong anti-fascist mentality. Even as a child, Larsson understood the importance of democracy and freedom of speech as tools to defend against tyranny.

Larsson's grandmother died when he was eight years old, so he went to live with his parents and younger brother, Joakim, in Stockholm. He received his first typewriter at age 12, and as a teenager he wrote obsessively about his anti-fascist, leftist political views. While protesting the Vietnam War (1955–75) at age 18, he met fellow political activist Eva Gabrielsson, who would remain his partner until his untimely death.

Journalism Career

In his early 20s Larsson spent most of his time researching and writing about the far-right political movement in Sweden. The British magazine Searchlight hired Larsson as their Swedish correspondent. Shortly after, Larsson began working for the Expo Foundation, an organization dedicated to exposing right-wing forces and individuals in Sweden. He published his first book, Extremhögern (The Extreme Right) in 1991. Because he exposed neo-Nazis, Larsson lived under constant death threats from his political rivals. Although he spent his entire career as a researcher and journalist, he secured a book deal for three fiction manuscripts; these would later become the Millennium trilogy.

Death and Legacy

A lifelong smoker and "junk-food addict," Larsson died from a heart attack at age 50, on November 9, 2004. His death came just weeks after he delivered his unedited Millennium trilogy manuscripts to his publisher. Larsson died without a will, and almost immediately after his death, controversy grew over who should control his estate. Although Larsson had survived on a meager journalist's salary, his trilogy of novels shot up the best-seller list and began making a small fortune for his estate. Because Larsson never married his longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson, his estate transferred to his next of kin: his father and younger brother, with whom Gabrielsson claims he had a strained relationship. After Larsson's death, Gabrielsson fought to gain control of his estate, claiming his family was interested only in making money, not in preserving Larsson's voice and legacy. She maintained control of Larsson's laptop, claiming it contained a fourth manuscript in the series as well as outlines for another six. Later, his father and brother obtained control and continued to issue books.

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