Astrid Lindgren, an author of original genius whose appeal was worldwide, has died at 94. She will be mourned by all who seek to protect the billions of animals in animal factories. When she was awarded the Animal Welfare Institute's Albert Schweitzer Medal in 1988 Ambassador Wachtmeister said, "In Sweden, she is not only the most famous lady, she is the most beloved. I am sure that if the animals could vote, the majority would be still greater in her favor."
Astrid Lindgren looking at
her Schweitzer Medal.
Her books were translated into 60 languages, and more than 130 million copies were sold. Most famous were her stories of tales about Pippi Longstocking, which she made for her young daughter while nursing her through pneumonia. Then while Astrid herself was confined to her bed by a badly sprained ankle, she wrote them down.
Astrid led the way in forthright correspondence with the Prime Minister. Her letters were always printed in Stockholm's biggest newspaper, Expressen-later they were published by AWI in English. Astrid tells of her family's herd of cows who grazed happily on their lush green pasture. When Astrid was a small child, Bessie, one of the cows, lifted Astrid upon her horns and tossed her across the grass toward the farm house. Far from being frightened, this early experience led Astrid to fiercely defend cows and attack industrial dairy farming, in which cows are confined to stalls year round rather than being allowed outside to eat the grass in summer.
In accepting the Schweitzer Medal Astrid said, "almost 80 years later [after being tossed by Bessie], I wrote an article about cows. About how dreary the life of a cow could be nowadays. A cow didn't get to graze anymore, her calf was taken from her as soon as it was born, and, worst of all, she could no longer be courted by an interested bull. The inseminator came instead, and that was not the same.
"After that article I got a letter from a female veterinarian, Kristina Forslund. She was-and still is-a docent at the Swedish University of Agriculture. She described her experiences as a veterinarian, with full insight in our animal husbandry, and it was a harrowing account about indecent treatment of animals. She succeeded in making me so upset that even now, three years later, I still haven't gotten over it. Kristina asked me to help her in her struggle to bring about better animal husbandry. She thought-optimist that she is-that everyone would listen to me. At any rate we managed to rouse a massive public reaction, which finally resulted in a new animal protection law in Sweden. The Prime Minister himself came to my home to deliver the good news. The new law was supposed to be a kind of birthday present for me! Goodness gracious, what a wonderful present! But it turned out not to be that wonderful-not on every point-not for all animals. There is a great deal more that must be changed, before one can lean back and relax!
Swedish children dressed for the Feast of St. Lucia join Astrid in singing some of the many songs she wrote.
"And that is one of the reasons I am so happy to receive this medal. It gives me the guts to continue the struggle! The struggle, yes indeed. There are reactionaries back home, you know, they don't want any changes. It is impossible, they say. It is too expensive they say. But let us hope that we one day can get an animal protection law as kind and decent as people in other countries believe that we already have.
"For your help and encouragement, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
"I am sure that all Swedish cows and bulls and calves and pigs and sheep and chickens and hens are joining me when I say it once more!