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When I Was a Child

When I Was a Child

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An Autobiographical Novel

Author Vilhelm Moberg

Minnesota Historical Society Press (February 15, 2014)

With deadpan humor and startling detail, the author of the Emigrants series brings to life a childhood much like his own.


At the beginning of the twentieth century, in the poverty-stricken Swedish region of Småland, young Valter, the son of a soldier, explores the world around him and watches his older brothers emigrate to America. In this novel of the life of a farm boy, first published in three volumes in 1946, Vilhelm Moberg sensitively explores his own childhood.

When Valter, a boy with great imagination, describes the exciting things he sees so vividly, he is punished for lying, so he learns to write his stories down instead. He willingly leaves school and helps support his family by working in lumber camps and a glass factory. His father’s ill health and death bring even harder times. Through all his toil, he debates whether to honor his father’s wish and remain in Sweden to support his mother.

With gentle irony and a loving knowledge of the landscape, the people, and the larger issue of class struggle, Moberg offers American readers a deeply moving view of the other side of Swedish immigration.

Author information

Vilhelm Moberg, Swedish author, playwright, and historian, was the author of the four-volume Emigrants series, which was also translated into English by Gustaf Lannestock.

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 280 pages
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873519250

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