13 Facts About Harry Martinson


Harry Martinson was a Swedish writer, poet and former sailor.


Harry Martinson was awarded a joint Nobel Prize in Literature in 1974 together with fellow Swede Eyvind Johnson "for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos".


Harry Martinson was born in Jamshog, Blekinge County in south-eastern Sweden.


At a young age he lost both his parents, his father died of tuberculosis in 1910 and a year later his mother emigrated to Portland, Oregon leaving behind her children, whereafter Harry Martinson was placed as a foster child in the Swedish countryside.


At the age of sixteen Harry Martinson ran away and signed onto a ship to spend the next years sailing around the world visiting countries including Brazil and India.


Harry Martinson's poetry, characterized by linguistic innovation and a frequent use of metaphors, combined an acute eye for, and love of nature, with a deeply felt humanism.


The novel Vagen till Klockrike was another huge success, and in 1949 Harry Martinson became the first proletarian writer to be elected a member of the Swedish Academy.


Harry Martinson debuted in 1929 with the collection of poems Spokskepp, that for the most part employed motifs of the ocean and life as a seaman.


Harry Martinson's poetry was noted for rich imagery with precise observations that emphazised details.


Harry Martinson had a strong interest in science which was a prominent influence in his work.


Sensitive to criticism it appeared to be Harry Martinson's last published collection of poems, but in 1971 he returned with Dikter om ljus och morker, which was followed by a collection of nature poems Tuvor in 1973.


The sensitive Harry Martinson found it hard to cope with the criticism following his 1974 Nobel Prize award in Literature, and committed suicide on 11February 1978 at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm by cutting his stomach open with a pair of scissors in what has been described as a "hara-kiri-like manner".


The 100th anniversary of Harry Martinson's birth was celebrated around Sweden in 2004.