Illustration: Jenny Jansson

About the Astrid Lindgren Code

Astrid Lindgren holds a unique position within world literature, yet her enigmatic creative process has for many years been hidden in her impenetrable original drafts and manuscripts written in shorthand. Altogether, 670 shorthand notepads are in the possession of the Astrid Lindgren Archive and the Swedish Institute for Children's Books. These manuscripts have been considered “impossible” to access and have to date never been subject to research.

The Astrid Lindgren Code project utilises the joint competences of literary scholars, computer scientists, and professional stenographers to decipher Lindgren’s original drafts, primarily through the combination of two digital methods: handwritten text recognition (HTR), and crowd/expert sourcing. For the latter, we invite stenographers to participate in the project through collaborative transcription.

Our aim is to produce new knowledge of world-renowned author Lindgren through the first study of her original manuscripts, and contribute to the methodological development of the analysis of handwritten documents.

Projektet är förlagt till Svenska barnboksinstitutet. Medel har tilldelats från Riksbankens jubileumsfond. 

Malin Nauwerck with the shorthand notepads containing The World's Best Karlson (1968), donated to Mary Ørvig and the Swedish Institute for Children's Books by Astrid Lindgren.

Which Lindgren Books Will Be Studied?

The project aims to address Lindgren's creative process more generally, but will initially focus in particular detail on The Brothers Lionheart and The World's Best Karlson. Other works by Lindgren may also be relevant for the project in the future.

The Melin System of Shorthand

The Melin shorthand is based on the German system Gabelsberger and is the only shorthand system used to any greater extent in Sweden. Lindgren learned to write shorthand during the 1920s as part of her secretary training at the Bar-Lock Institute. The system is phonetic, and is based on the frequency of sounds in the Swedish language.

You can find out more on the website of the Melin Society of Shorthand.

Följ projektet på Instagram!