Min allrabästa och ömmaste vän! Kvinnors brevskrivning under svenskt 1700-tal

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This dissertation is a study of women's letter-writing in eighteenth-century Sweden. The letters are written by a number of women from the uppper classes (nobility and bourgeoisie) during the last two decades of the eighteenth century. The majority of the letters are written in Swedish, some however in French. The main aim is to examine the relationship between the idea of women as a special kind of letter-writers, and the writings of real women. The notion that women were different, and better, letter-writers than men originated in seventeenth-century France. Female letter-writers, such as the famous madame de Sévigné, were thought of as writing with ease, spontaneity and charm.

The first chapter contains a broad discussion of the letter genre from a theoretical and historical viewpoint. The famililar letter is perceived as a form of writing which reflects the writer, the receiver and the world around them (for example society, the letter genre itself and other types of texts). This corresponds to the idea of the letter as a replacement for conversation. Yet another theoretical discussion concerns the relationship between gender and genre.

Chapter two is a study of the letters of Hedvig Ulrika De la Gardie (1761-1832), married to Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt. She was a member of the court of Gustav III and wrote a number of letters to her husband in the years 1788-93. Her style is full of irony and wit and can sometimes be characterized as burlesque; in this she resembles the famous madame de Sévigné.

Julie Ekerman's letters to her former lover Carl Sparre are treated in the third chapter. Ekerman (1765-1800) was the daughter of the first female journalist in Sweden, Catharina Ahlgren, but became a courtesan. Her letters to Sparre can be interpreted as an attempt to come to terms with her new life as a mayor's wife in a small town.

Chapter four deals with the correspondence of the wife and daughters of the royal librarian Carl Christoffer Gjörwell: Brita Eleonora Müllern (1748-1822), Brite Louise Gjörwell (1768-1806) and Gustafva Gjörwell (1769-1840). Their letters express the ideals of the new bourgeoisie: friendship, family and sentiment. The pastoral poems of the time are also of importance.

All the female letter-writers studied in the dissertation follow the ideal for letter-writing, which originated in the French salons during the seventeenth century. This ideal meant that letter-writing should be seen as a form of conversation, and that women excelled in this type of writing.


  • Marie Löwendahl
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • Scandinavian languages and literature, Allmän och jämförande litteraturvetenskap, General and comparative literature, the eighteenth century, women's letter-writing, the familiar letter, Nordiska språk (språk och litteratur)
Translated title of the contributionMy Dearest and most Tender Friend! Women's Letter-writing in Eighteenth-century Sweden
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2007 May 19
  • Makadam förlag
Print ISBNs978-91-7061-037-0
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2007-05-19 Time: 10:15 Place: Hörsalen, Språk-och litteraturcentrum, Helgonbacken 12, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Björkman, Margareta Title: docent Affiliation: Mälardalens högskola ---

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Lena Olsson, Eva Haettner Aurelius, Jon Helgason, Hedda Gunneng, Elisabet Hammar, Marie Löwendahl & Börje Westlund


Project: Research

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