(1909 - 1987)
Journalist and writer
Born in Uppsala, Barbro Alving moved to Stockholm in her early twenties. Her mother was a gifted writer, one of the first crime writers to start the famous Swedish thriller tradition. Her father, a teacher and headmaster specialised in Nordic literature. Barbro Alving started to work as a journalist in 1928 and continued in this profession for the rest of her life.
During the 1930s she became one of the most famous reporters in Sweden, mainly due to her articles on Spanish Civil War and the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. She developed a unique style of writing, mixing well researched facts with personal description not lacking a certain humour wherever possible. Envied by many colleagues, this style gave her a huge group of “Bang addicted” readers who simply were hooked on her style.
Barbro Alving's daughter Ruffa was born in 1938: Bang decided to raise the child as a single mother, thus preventing hundreds of unmarried mothers from aborting their children. “If Bang can do it, so can I!” became an often heard phrase.
In the early 1940s she met her partner, Loyse Sjöcrona. Alving was very open about the fact that she lived with another woman, but she never publicly declared herself to be a lesbian or homosexual. They lived together for more than forty years, until Alving's death. With Loyse, Ruffa got a second mother, which was probably a necessary condition permitting Alving's travels around the world with her typewriter. The hilarious anecdotes “Bang, Viran and the child” encountered were published in weekly columns and later collected in 23 volumes – in the 1950s and 1960s, there was hardly a Swedish household that did not have a couple of column collections on their bookshelves.
Alving worked against Swedish nuclear weapons, and she was a radical pacifist. In 1956 she spent a month in jail for her refusal to take part in the Swedish civil defence. At this time Alving also became more and more interested in religious topics, and in 1959 she converted to Catholicism. “I have finally found what I have been looking for during the last 30 years” she wrote to her daughter.
Her weakening health did not keep her from travelling:
Agadir 1961, the process of Adolf Eichmann 1961, Vietnam 1967. Together with the Swedish photographer Anders Engman she made well received reportage journeys to the Middle East 1969 and Africa 1971.
In spring 1983 she got aphasie and was no longer able to write. 1987 she died.