The following biography is reprinted from Thomas Seltzer's introduction to Married. August Strindberg. New York: Boni and Liveright, Inc., 1917.
August Strindberg has left a remarkably rich record of his life in various works, especially in his autobiographical series of novels. He was born in 1849 in Stockholm. His was a sad childhood passed in extreme poverty. He succeeded in entering the University of Upsala in 1867, but was forced for a time on account of lack of means to interrupt his studies. He tried his fortune as schoolmaster, actor, and journalist and made an attempt to study medicine. All the while he was active in a literary way, composing his first plays in 1869. In 1874 he obtained a position in the Royal Library, where he deovted himself to scientific studies, learned Chinese in order to catalogue the Chinese manuscripts, and wrote an erudite monograph which was read at the Academy of Inscriptions in Paris.
His first important literary productions were the drama Master Olof (1878) and the novel The Red Room (1879). Disheartened by the failure of Master Olof, he gave up literature for a long time. When he returned to it, he displayed an amazing productivity. Work followed work in quick succession--novels, short stories, dramas, histories, historical studies, and essays. The Swedish People is said to be the most popular book in Sweden next to the Bible. The mere enumeration of his writings would occupy more than two pages. His versatility led him to make researches in physics and chemistry and natural science and to write on those subjects.
Through works like The Red Room, Married, and the dramas The Father and Miss Julie, Strindberg attached himself to the naturalistic school of literature. Another period of literary inactivity followed, during which he passed through a mental crisis akin to insanity. When he returned to the writing of novels and dramas he was no longer a naturalist, but a symbolist and mystic. Among the plays he composed in this style are To Damascus, The Dream Play, and_The Great Highway.
Strindberg married three times, divorced his first two wives, but separated amicably from the third. He died in 1912. The vast demonstration at his funeral, attended by the laboring classes as well as by the "upper" classes, proved that, in spite of the antagonisms he had aroused, Sweden unanimously awarded him the highest place in her literature.
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