11 Famous People from Stockholm You've Never Heard Of

Many famous people have come from Stockholm
Many famous people have come from Stockholm | © Tommie Hansen / Flickr
Photo of Jozef Brodala
26 January 2018

Stockholm as a city has produced a number of world famous people, from the four pop pioneers in Abba to superstar film personalities like Greta Garbo as well as sports stars like Bjorn Borg.

From actors to inventors and writers, here are some people from, or associated with, Sweden’s capital who have left their mark on the world and are well known in Scandinavia’s largest city but are not household names in the rest of the world.

Elsa Beskow

Beskow may sound unfamiliar to many outside of Sweden but to Swedish children she remains an influential and much loved literary figure. Despite the fact that she wrote her books in the early 20th century they remain as beautifully illustrated as ever with themes that still appeal to children to this day. Her illustrations are so lovely that many people have framed prints of them in their homes. One of her works Aunt Green, Aunt Brown and Aunt Lavender has been immortalised through artwork in the Stockholm subway. Moreover, her legacy is secured with the Elsa Beskow prize awarded every year to the best children’s book illustrator in Sweden.

The Aunt Green, Aunt Brown and Aunt Lavender Art Work | © Lindansaren/WikiCommons

Gustaf de Laval

Although he was not born in Stockholm, De Laval ended up living in the Swedish capital and was an important contributor to the city’s Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He was particularly known for designing steam turbines in the late 19th century as well as creating the first machine that could separate cream from milk. This might not seem life changing but it revolutionised the way we produce and drink milk. His greatest contribution though was the centrifugal separator which had many applications in engineering.

De Lavals factory in Nacka is now a conference centre | © Jordgubbe/WikiCommons

August Strindberg

One of Sweden’s greatest literary minds, and often called the father of modern Swedish literature. His influence looms large in Sweden and he is a national icon in a similar way to Shakespeare in Great Britain or Taras Shevchenko in Ukraine. Strindberg’s work was not just confined to the written word, he was also a director and a painter. His novel, The Red Room, is one of the most important in all of Swedish literature. You can still visit his house in Stockholm much of which is preserved in the way Strindberg left it when he died.

Strindberg in his later years | © Strindberg Museum/WikiCommons

Jenny Lind

An incredibly talented and well-loved opera singer, Lind was born in Stockholm in 1820 and forged a career through her beautiful voice and the ability to command the room. She first charmed Stockholm, then Europe and eventually embarked on a tour of the United States in the 1950s that was incredibly successful. The tickets were in such high demand that the organiser could auction them rather than sell them. While she is still famous in Sweden, since her death in 1887, Lind’s name is nowhere near as recognisable as it once was.

A memorial to Lind at Westminster Abbey | © WikiCommons

Gustaf Erik Pasch

Although Pasch was born in Norrkoping, a town just over an hour away from Stockholm, he made his name in the capital at The Karolinska Institute, one of the best medical universities in the world. He was a professor of chemistry there and created something which many of us use regularly – the safety match. Pasch managed to perfect a number of other technologies including waterproof concrete, growing silkworms and the manufacture of bank notes. However, he is best known for creating a match that could be used without causing any harm.

Thanks to Pasch we have these | © Pastorius/WikiCommons

Silvana Imam

Silvana is incredibly popular within Sweden but owing to the fact that she performs in Swedish her reach outside the country is relatively limited. Imam is a rapper who has become one of the most popular artists in the genre in the country. She has won a number of awards including artist of the year at the 2016 Grammis, the Swedish equivalent of the Grammys. While she does perform in festivals and shows outside Sweden, but it is in the city of her birth, Stockholm, where she is really treated as a superstar.

Silvana is known across Sweden | © Frankie Fouganthin/WikiCommons

Markus Persson

You might not have heard of Persson but it is likely that you have heard of the game he developed, Minecraft. One of the most popular video games of the past decade and loved by both adults and children, Persson’s creation took the world by storm. His company, Mojang, have created a range of games but none have quite reached the heights that Minecraft has. Persson managed to sell the game to Microsoft for $2.5 million and so doesn’t work on it anymore, but he remains an important presence in the Swedish gaming community.

Markus Persson’s contribution to the world of games | © BagoGames/Flickr

Alva Myrdal

Myrdal moved around quite a bit as a child but spent a significant amount of time growing up in Stockholm where she became one of the most powerful and respected voices in the disarmament campaign. Her work led to her winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982 as part of a team who were working to try, and ease tensions caused by the Cold War. She was also a very important voice in the foundation of the Swedish welfare state having written an influential book in the 1930s outlining why such provision was needed. Myrdal, who was also at one point a member of Parliament, was a towering figure in Swedish politics.

Myrdal picked up one of these | © Adam Baker/Flickr

Carl Linnaeus

While Linnaeus has long been associated with Uppsala, a city roughly half an hour from Stockholm, he also did a great deal of his work during the time he spent in the capital. He was so influential in Stockholm’s science scene that he helped set up the Royal Swedish Academy for Science. Linnaeus changed the way we categorise plants, animals and more by coming up with a system to classify them. He has been known to some as, ‘The Prince of Botanists’ and the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once wrote him a letter to tell him he knew no greater man on earth, and that he was a towering scientific presence.

This garden bears Linnaeus’ name | © Andreas Trepte/WikiCommons

Raoul Wallenberg

Wallenberg was born in a Lidingo, a town within the county of Stockholm – if not the city limits. Wallenberg is known for his time in Budapest where, as the Swedish envoy to the city, he helped Jewish people to flee Nazi persecution by issuing them Swedish passports. It is estimated that he saved tens of thousands of people and is therefore treated as a national hero in Sweden. Unfortunately, he was detained by the Soviet Union during the siege of Budapest in 1945 and not seen again but his legacy is secured in the people who were saved and their families.

There are many monuments to Wallenberg including this one in Lidingo | © Holger.Ellgaard/WikiCommons

Gunnar Asplund

Asplund is one of Sweden’s most famous architects and is credited with being a key figure in bringing modernism to Swedish design. Many of his most famous buildings were built in Stockholm including the public library and the Woodland cemetery which is one of Stockholm’s most beautiful public spaces. He was chosen to design the Stockholm Exhibition Centre in 1930 as he was seen as one of the City’s key architectural influences. His work lives on in his striking buildings.

Asplund designed the beautiful Stockholm Public Library | © Arild Vågen/WikiCommons

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