Etikettarkiv: diary

How boring it is to be ill … but Wilhelm von Braun writes humorous poems

In the summer of 1849, I was mostly at home except for a few weeks spent at Fullerstad and a few days at Krusenhof. August was very ill throughout the summer and the joy and well-being during that time were rare guests at Loddby. The last days of the year, I had a violent rush of blood to my lungs, and was sick for 3 weeks.  A thousand times I exclaimed with Braun:

How boring, so boring it is to be ill
woe it’s invention, nevertheless, still
time passes by, as time’s wont to do,
But slowly, damned slowly, time passes through.

(Attempt at translating Wilhelm von Braun’s poem Fantasi på sjuksängen).

This is the first diary entry where we learn that Augusta had tuberculosis, or consumption. Her brother August was also ill and we don’t know what he was afflicted with that summer. Fullerstad was the home of Augusta’s dear relatives, the Schuberts, and Krusenhof was the home of her best friends, the Hjorts.

But who was Wilhelm von Braun who wrote poetry that a 22-year-old girl would have memorized? Well, at that time he was one of Sweden’s most popular poets. And not all of his poems would have been suitable for young women :).

Wilhelm von Braun (1813-1860), like Paul Wahlfelt and other officer friends of Augusta, got his early education in the cadet school at Karlberg’s military academy in Stockholm. This was a boarding school for boys, usually from privileged families. Wilhelm followed the tradition of his father, and was enrolled at Karlberg at 15 years of age in 1828. After graduating in 1834, and for the next 7 years, he served as a lieutenant.

But his passion was poetry and prose. He published his first poetry in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in 1834. In 1849 he wrote a story called Napoleon, the Adventure of a Cadet, which was based on his experiences at Karlberg. In 1846, he resigned his commission as a lieutenant to be a full-time writer.

Von Braun is presently having a renaissance. There is now a Wilhelm von Braun Association who has published the book Wilhelm von Braun – The one that ladies never read (”Den där som damerna aldrig läst”). And while reading the book, one can enjoy a glass of Wilhelm von Braun’s Punsch, a traditional Swedish cordial, produced in honor of this national poet.

I am glad that Augusta still got to enjoy the poems suitable for women, and those that provided humor for young girls suffering with consumption.


Sources (in Swedish):…/ASU_207.pdf  (Kadettminnen av överste Claes Bratt)

Fantasi på Sjuksängen i Samlade Arbeten af Wilhelm v. Braun, Del 1 (pdf of book available free online) (Wilhelm von Brauns Punsch)

Featured image is part of an oil painting by Antonio Mancini (1852-1930), Resting, 1887.,+Antonio



The Family at Loddby

When discovering a diary, it is like stepping into someone’s home without knowing anything about the family. There are names mentioned, but it is not like a novel where the author will provide you with character descriptions. And at the time of Augusta’s diary, there were no photographs.

Fortunately, there is a lot of recorded genealogy; dates and places of birth, marriage, and death. And of some family members, there might be a painting or a drawing.

So what did Augusta’s family look like?

It consisted of only 4 persons: Augusta, her brother, her mother, and her brother-in-law.

When the diary starts in 1847, Augusta is almost 20 years old. Her older brother August is 31. What we glean from the diary is that Augusta and her mother would rather not have him around: “Poor August! He will never be free from a life that is a never-ending chain of pain, bitterness, and suffering, and we will never, ever stop crying over him.”

Augusta’s mother, Anna Catharina (Charlotta) Fagerström is 59 years old. She got married at 17, a widow at 47, and had 5 children of which only 2 are still alive in 1847. Augusta was born when her mother was 39 years old. From the diary one discerns that Augusta cares a lot about her mother.

And then there is Gustaf Fredrik Lejdenfrost. Lejdenfrost is a 49-year old, wealthy, textile-mill industrialist who owns the estate Loddby, just outside Norrköping. This is where the family lives. He is twice a brother-in-law to Augusta. He first married Augusta’s sister Amalia (b. 1808) who died in childbirth at age 25.  He then married Augusta’s oldest sister Charlotta (b. 1806) who died from influenza only two years after their wedding. One can only wonder how one could overcome being a widower at age 35 and again at age 39! As he is well connected and successful, he becomes Augusta’s benefactor which allows her to study and be part of the society in Stockholm.

There is also staff mentioned in the diary, especially the housekeeper Stina Maria (Malla) Kullerstrand (32 years old) and the bookkeeper C. Lindgren (18 years old).

That is the small family at Loddby.

But then there are so many relatives, friends, and suitors. The journey has only started!

It started with a diary

It started with a diary.

When I was 14, my dad gave me a moleskin notebook and suggested I should start keeping a diary. I was flattered and at the same time curious. Why did he think I should chronicle my mundane teenage life? Years later, I found out that both his mother and her grandmother kept diaries.

My great-great-grandmother (my father’s mother’s mother’s mother) was Augusta Söderholm. She was born in Sweden in 1827 and died from tuberculosis at the age of 28. Her diary starts in 1847 with a trip to Germany and her impressions of travelling by the new mode of transportation – the steam-engine train.

Could one retrace her trip to Germany? What about her travels from her country estate to Stockholm, where the diary chronicles societal balls and descriptions of hopeful suitors?

My sister Kerstin got equally excited about the possibility of following Augusta’s footsteps.

And so our own journey started – a journey to understand the life of a young, wealthy, Swedish girl in the mid-1800s.  You can read about our journey here and on Kerstin’s blog in Swedish. We hope you will embark on this journey with us.