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RETHINKING SCANDINAVIA — CSS Publications Web Quarterly
Volume II, Issue 1 — "Looking In, Watching Out"
Published in July 2018

Female Citizenship in Scandinavian Literature in the 1840s

Anna Bohlin, Stockholms universitet

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This article is part of the research project “Enchanting Nations: Commodity Market, Folklore and Nationalism in Scandinavian Literature 1830-1850”, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond 2016-2018. It is a partly rewritten and extended version of an article published in Swedish: “Kök till vildmark. Det kvinnliga medborgarskapets spatialitet i nordisk 1840-talslitteratur”, in Alexandra Borg, Andreas Hedberg, Maria Karlsson, Jerry Määttä & Åsa Warnqvist (eds.), Konstellationer. Festskrift till Anna Williams, Hedemora: Gidlunds förlag 2017, p. 79-93.

Is it even possible to talk about female citizenship in the 1840s? More than half a century would pass before Scandinavian women enjoyedin the 1840s? More than half a century would pass before Scandinavian women enjoyed political citizenship: women won the right to vote in Finland in 1906, in Norway in 1913, in Denmark in 1915, and finally in Sweden in 1919/1921. Women’s civil rights improved only slowly and fitfully from the mid-nineteenth century, and organized women’s movements were not established in the Nordic countries until several decades later on. Still, women were citizens. Debate over the meaning of the concept of citizenship, which had begun during the French Revolution, continued well into the twentieth century. In fact, the conditions for citizenship were codified in Swedish law as late as 1858; in the 1840s the concept of citizenship was still in the making.1 Ebba Berling Åselius, Rösträtt med förhinder. Rösträttsstrecket i svensk politik 1900–1920, Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2005, p. 24. See also Ulla Manns, Upp systrar, väpnen er! Kön och politik i svensk 1800-talsfeminism, Stockholm: Atlantis, 2005. Debate over the issue took place not only in parliaments and in the press, but in literature – the one public space to which women had access. And female authors did raise their voices on the matter.

In this article I will focus on four female writers: one Norwegian, Hanna Winsnes (1789–1872); two Swedes, Fredrika Bremer (1801–1865) and Emilie Flygare-Carlén (1807–1892); and one Finn, Sara Wacklin (1790–1846). However, the fiercest debate over women’s citizenship in Sweden and Finland in the 1840s was actually instigated by a man. Carl Jonas Love Almqvist’s Sara Videbeck (Det går an), issued in 1839 and featuring an independent woman glazier, left its mark upon The Duchess of Finland (Hertiginnan af Finland), published a decade later in 1850 by Zacharias Topelius, another male pioneer of women’s rights. Therefore, I will also briefly comment on Almqvist’s novel as well as Topelius’s. My aim is to examine how the content of female citizenship is construed. Since contemporary ideas about femininity were intimately connected to the nineteenth-century distinction between the private and the public spheres, the question of content must be approached through spatialization. In order to clarify what the notion implies, it’s imperative to ask where female citizenship is enacted.

In Borderline Citizens, historian Kathryn Gleadle studies mid-nineteenth-century British women’s experiences of political subjectivity. “Women’s rights as citizens were continually in the process of construction and were always vulnerable to challenge and dismissal”, Gleadle contends.2 Kathryn Gleadle, Borderline Citizens. Women, Gender, and Political Culture in Britain 1815–1867, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 17. Women’s political authority and sense of inclusion in public affairs could vary considerably depending on their location. The family setting, the parochial realm, and the public sphere provided different and often contradictory opportunities for women as political actors, and the boundaries between the private and the public were blurred, as, for example, when an entire family network was involved in political campaigns or collaborations in support of an MP. Furthermore, progressive as well as conservative thinkers promoted women as moral agents and considered moral education foundational for societal change.3 Ibid. The political potential of the domestic sphere was explored by female Scandinavian authors. In their introduction to Space, Place and Gendered Identities, Kathryn Gleadle, Kathryne Beebe, and Angela Davis note that the “spatial turn” during the last decades has moved from acknowledging place as a factor in the production of gender, to focus on “the social and political use of space”, that is to say, how practices transform space.4 Kathryne Beebe, Angela Davis & Kathryn Gleadle, “Introduction”, in Kathryne Beebe & Angela Davis (eds.), Space, Place and Gendered Identities. Feminist History and the Spatial Turn, London & New York: Routledge, 2015, p. 8. This insight will prove crucial for recognising female citizenship in literature.

Political practices are also at the heart of political scientist Ruth Lister’s influential study Citizenship: Feminist Perspectives (1997/2003). As many feminists have pointed out, the putatively abstract citizen of modern-day democracies – a concept coined in classical antiquity, referring to free men – still presupposes a male body. Nevertheless, the very same republican tradition provides a means of feminist re-articulation in the emphasis on participation in public affairs as a civic duty. To do justice to women as political actors, Lister argues, the notion of citizenship as status needs to be complemented by one of citizenship as practice.5 Ruth Lister, Citizenship. Feminist Perspectives, 2nd ed., Basingstoke & New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. This reformulation of the concept has proved fruitful for analysing historical material. Historians Christina Florin and Lars Kvarnström, struggling to make visible women’s citizenship in nineteenth-century Sweden, stresses that the focus on practices does not restrict analysis to particular places or institutions, but allows for the inclusion of all kinds of actions intended to bring about societal change, “actions directed towards the public sphere”.6 Christina Florin & Lars Kvarström, “Inledning”, in Christina Florin & Lars Kvarnström (eds.), Kvinnor på gränsen till medborgarskap. Genus, politik och offentlighet 1800–1850, Stockholm: Atlas, 2002, p. 19. My translation. However, in order to grasp Fredrika Bremer’s idea of women as political actors more fully, we need to address yet another aspect. I will argue that citizenship as status and as practice is insufficient for an understanding of Bremer’s notion of female citizenship, since she makes a distinction between the act committed and the inner attitude towards the act. Citizenship as morality is comprehensible against the backdrop of the Lutheran idea of general priesthood and nineteenth-century Protestantism’s stress on religion as inner conviction rather than as manifested in ritual action.

Scholars of masculinities Jørgen Lorentzen and Claes Ekenstam suggest that citizenship and manliness were exchangeable concepts during the nineteenth century. They summarize their argument as follows: “the citizens’ different qualities […] together constituted the national character, that is, the nation’s political abilities were intimately connected to the individual citizens’ (the men’s) ability to cultivate their innate and acquired properties”.7 Jørgen Lorentzen & Claes Ekenstam, “Inledning”, in Jørgen Lorentzen & Claes Ekenstam (eds.), Män i Norden. Manlighet och modernitet 1840–1940, Hedemora: Gidlunds förlag, 2006, p. 11. My translation. Contemporary women writers insisted that women’s contributions to the nation were at least as important as men’s; the female citizen’s qualities needed to be taken into account as the moral, economical and political capital of the nation. The following analysis will begin with a discussion of citizenship as a vocation before moving on to highlight the older, eighteenth-century concept of “the useful citizen” and examine the relation between the imagined citizenship on the one hand, and household and market economies on the other. Brief comparisons will be made with female citizenship as treated by Almqvist and Topelius, followed by a concluding discussion of citizenship as morality.

Citizenship as vocation: Fredrika Bremer

Fredrika Bremer (1801-1865) painted in 1843 by John Gustaf Sandberg (1782-1854);  source [Wikimedia Commons.](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fredrika_Bremer_painted_by_Sandberg_1843.jpg) Fredrika Bremer (1801-1865) painted in 1843 by John Gustaf Sandberg (1782-1854); source Wikimedia Commons.

Bremer, a forerunner of the Swedish women’s movement, is most famous for Hertha, the paradigmatic emancipation novel of Swedish literature, issued in 1856. However, her novels of the 1840s are equally concerned with female citizenship, particularly Brothers and Sisters (Syskonlif), published in the revolutionary year of 1848. At the end of the novel, the nine siblings inaugurate an ideal society, inspired by utopian socialism but with liberal elements.8 On Bremer’s reading of the utopian socialists, see Eva Heggestad, En bättre och lyckligare värld. Kvinnliga författares utopiska visioner 1850–1940, Stockholm/Stehag: Symposion, 2003, p. 33–58; Carina Burman, Bremer. En biografi, Stockholm:Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2001, p. 249–260. The siblings share a strong desire to make a contribution to the community, as expressed most eloquently by Gerda:

How beautiful it must be, how glorious, Augustin, to live and suffer for our native land, for our religion, for humanity, or for something which benefits and ennobles.9 Fredrika Bremer, Brothers and Sisters. A Tale of Domestic Life, vol. I–III, transl. Mary Howitt, London: Henry Colburn, 1848, II: p. 58.

Hvad det måste vara skönt, kännas stort, Augustin, att lefva, att lida för sitt fosterland, för sin religion, för menskligheten eller något som gagnar, som förädlar den!10 Fredrika Bremer, Nya teckningar ur hvardagslifvet. Syskonlif, vol. I–II, Stockholm: L.J. Hjerta 1848, I: p. 267.

Gerda envies the martyrs “who struggle and die for truth and right”.11 Bremer, Brothers and Sisters, 1848, II: p. 58. Though previously mocked for longing to make a contribution, she has found support in the Icelandic sculptress Lagertha, who is working on a statue of the Old Norse norns, inspired by Grundtvig. Gerda continues:

I know that there is a life beyond that of housekeeping, even for women, a life, an activity for thought, as noble, as beneficial as the other; that there is a parental character higher than the common one, and that is as regards [sic] – the children of the mind!

And something of this kind, Augustin, I feel should have been my calling […]!12 Bremer, Brothers and Sisters, 1848, II: p. 59 f.

[J]ag känner att det gifves ett lif utom det husliga, äfven för qvinnan, ett lif, en verksamhet för idéer, så ädelt, så välgörande som något, att det finnes ett moder- och faderskap högre än det vanliga, och det är för – – andens barn!…

Och något sådant, Augustin, känner jag, hade varit min kallelse […]!13 Bremer, Syskonlif, 1848, I: p. 268.

In Brothers and Sisters, Bremer develops the idea of “spiritual” parenthood. The spiritual mother is, in Bremer’s words, “the guardian, the teacher, the nurse, who often is more a mother than she who bears the name” (“vårdarinnan, läkarinnan, fostrarinnan, som ofta är mera moder, än den som bär namnet”), not only for those closest to her, but for the entire nation and, by extension, for mankind.14 Bremer, Brothers and Sisters, 1848, I: p. 57; Bremer, Syskonlif, 1848, I: p. 45. As several scholars have pointed out, some decades later this idea inspired Ellen Key’s concept of “social motherhood”.15 See for example Claudia Lindén, Om kärlek. Litteratur, sexualitet och politik hos Ellen Key, Stockholm/Stehag: Symposion 2002, p. 354; Anna Bohlin, Röstens anatomi. Läsningar av politik i Elin Wägners Silverforsen, Selma Lagerlöfs Löwensköldtrilogi och Klara Johansons Tidevarvskåserier, Umeå: Bokförlaget h:ström, 2008, p. 90. Here, I would like to draw attention to the fact that Bremer articulates citizenship as vocation. Gerda’s brother responds to her exclamation: “The natural disposition is a vocation of God […].” (“Naturanlaget är en Guds kallelse […].”)16 Bremer Brothers and Sisters, 1848, II: p. 60; Bremer, Syskonlif, 1848, I: p. 268. It is even a “duty to follow its bent” – obviously, provided it is “noble”.17 Bremer, Brothers and Sisters, 1848, II: p. 60.

Luther divided society into three estates: ecclesia (the church), politia (the state), and oeconomia (the household). The “general priesthood” is the idea that every individual has a vocation, even though it is pursued in different estates of society. The domestic site and parenthood were attributed a high status, but women were supposed to restrict their vocation to domestic activities. Inger Hammar has analysed Bremer’s concept of citizenship as grounded in, yet also critical of, the Lutheran doctrine of the general priesthood, and has situated her ideas in relation to the resistance which they met with from conservatives in political debate. Hammar draws the conclusion that Bremer legitimised philanthropic activity in the public space as an extension of the private sphere.18 Inger Hammar, “Kvinnokall och kvinnosak: Några nedslag i 1800-talets debatt om genus, medborgarskap och offentlighet”, in Christina Florin & Lars Kvarnström (eds.), Kvinnor på gränsen till medborgarskap. Genus, politik och offentlighet 1800–1850, Stockholm: Atlas, 2002, p. 116–148; Inger Hammar, “Den svårerövrade offentligheten. Kön och religion i emancipationsprocessen”, in Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift 1998:2, p. 16–28. See also Maria Södling, “Luthers frihet – och kvinnornas”, in Svenska Kyrkotidning 2017:6, p. 164–169. And yet, Gerda in Brothers and Sisters makes the opposite move.

Gerda feels that Luther has slightly misunderstood God’s purpose in creating womankind – “there is a life beyond that of housekeeping, even for women” (my italics) – and this feeling is supported by nineteenth-century anthropology, in which one’s natural disposition is a vocation. She therefore breaks off the engagement with a despotic man – the ubiquitous villain of the nineteenth-century novel – and travels to America with her brother to sing Swedish folksongs in public concerts. In other words, she leaves the household and chooses a life in public space. Like Lagertha’s statue, this is portrayed as a contribution to society: artistic endeavours make useful citizens. In Gerda’s case, her usefulness is summarized by an American newspaper article which declares that the songs spring from Scandinavian nature and “out of the people’s own, genuine, loving, foreboding life” with an “original power [that] purifies and elevates the heart of the civilized world” (“ursprungskraft […] som renar och upplifvar den civiliserade verldens hjerta”).19 Bremer, Brothers and Sisters, 1848, II: p. 230; Bremer, Syskonlif, 1848, II: p. 18 ff. According to Bremer’s fictional American journalist, the family values conveyed by the songs are especially appealing to Americans because they “strengthen the foundation-pillars of society” (“samhällets eviga grundpelare”).20 Ibid.; Bremer, Brothers and Sisters, 1848, II: p. 231. Gerda’s leap into public space does not take the form of an extension of domestic space to include the neighbourhood. Rather, she crosses the ocean and utterly transforms public space itself. As a moral agent in public space, she performs the morality-safeguarding function of the home, and in doing so, reshapes the public as a family. As we shall see, this move goes both ways: the domestic site is likewise transformed into a public space.

Another of Bremer’s characters makes a similar move beyond the family, but this time from civilisation into the wilderness. In Bremer’s novel Life in Dalecarlia: The Parsonage of Mora (I Dalarna, 1845), the excellent Miss Lotta moves from her aristocratic family’s home in Stockholm to a remote part of the province of Dalecarlia, where the road ends just short of the Norwegian border. Miss Lotta is popularly known as “the Major” because she has been endowed with a strong body and moustaches, something which makes her realise from an early stage in life that, while she will never be an “agreeable lady” (“behagligt fruntimmer”), she may well become “an able manager of the house” (“en dugtig hushållsmenniska”).21 Fredrika Bremer, Life in Dalecarlia: The Parsonage of Mora, transl. William Howitt, London: Chapman and Hall 1845, p. 153; Fredrika Bremer, Nya teckningar ur hvardagslifvet. I Dalarna, Stockholm: L.J. Hjerta, 1845, p. 159. On Bremer’s own journey to Dalecarlia and the reception of the novel, see Carina Burman, Bremer. En biografi, 2001, p. 244–249; Gunnel Furuland, “Författare som resenärer och resenärer som författare. Fredrika Bremer och H.C. Andersen i Dalarna”, in Gunnel & Lars Furuland, Resenärer i Dalarna – från Carl von Linné till Göran Palm, Mora: Stiftelsen Bonäs Bygdegård, 2007, p. 19–46. On trans as a motive in 19th-century Swedish literature, see Sam Holmqvist, Transformationer. 1800-talets svenska translitteratur genom Lasse-Maja, C.J.L. Almqvist och Aurora Ljungstedt, Göteborg & Stockholm: Makadam förlag, 2017. Unfortunately, her brother has lost her inheritance in a swindle, but she works herself up by housekeeping and sets up a successful business in the wilderness. She also takes in a physically disabled young male relative whose condition is much improved by baths in the river, a relief which allows him to stop complaining about an “ailment, which no longer hindered him from being a useful and a happy man” (“sjukdom, som icke längre hindrade honom att vara en nyttig och lycklig menniska”).22 Bremer, Life in Dalecarlia, 1845, p. 158; Bremer, I Dalarna, 1845, p. 162 ff. This happy outcome encourages the Major to expand her enterprise and take in more young people in similar situations and train them to become useful citizen.

In Swedish novels of the 1840s, a national cartographic project can be seen unfolding, one in which borders in different ways actualize the significance of citizenship. In Life in Dalecarlia the wilderness on the borders to Norway becomes a site where bodies that do not fit societal norms are provided with a space to exercise citizenship. The border intensifies the citizenship’s promises of happiness and inclusion to the individual.23 Anna Bohlin, “Den svenska 1840-talsromanen som nationell kartografi”, in Samlaren 2016, p. 58–86. Furthermore, although the wilderness is often conceived as the very opposite of the home, the spatial practices of the Major – providing food supplies and educating responsible citizens – transforms the wilderness into a domestic space. The public concert scene and the trackless forest are turned into arenas for female citizenship through the practices by which morality is established in the home.

Useful citizens: Hanna Winsnes and Sara Wacklin

Hanna Winsnes (1789-1872) painted in 1871 by Mathias Stoltenberg (1799-1871); source [Wikimedia Commons.](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hanna_Winsnes.jpg) Hanna Winsnes (1789-1872) painted in 1871 by Mathias Stoltenberg (1799-1871); source Wikimedia Commons.

Sara Wacklin (1790-1846) painted in 1846 by Edla Jansson-Blommér (1817-1908); source [Wikimedia Commons.](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sara_Wacklin_by_Jansson-Blommer.jpg) Sara Wacklin (1790-1846) painted in 1846 by Edla Jansson-Blommér (1817-1908); source Wikimedia Commons.

Bremer’s Gerda, Lagertha and the Major are all useful citizens, contributing to the national wealth according to their different dispositions. The useful citizen, however, is connected to an older, eighteenth-century ideal of citizenship that continues to inform the writings of Hanna Winsnes and Sara Wacklin. Both feature female educators, teaching in or in the immediate vicinity of their homes, as crucial to the welfare of the nation. For Winsnes, however, the foundation-stones for nation-building are the economical wives of clergymen and housekeepers. This comes as no surprise, since Winsnes is the author of an enormously popular cookbook, Lærebog i de forskjellige Grene af Huusholdningen (1845), which was republished continuously until 1921 and sold more than 50.000 copies during the nineteenth century alone. Yet, she also wrote short stories and two novels under the pseudonym Hugo Schwarz. The Count’s Daughter (Grevens Datter, 1841) is set in Denmark and has a slightly misleading title in that the central character is actually the count’s exemplary housekeeper, Susanne Nørager. Although Winsnes was in many respects in thrall to conservative ideology, in terms of both social class and gender, Kari Melby rightly points out that she made a significant contribution to the professionalization of household management.24 Kari Melby, “Hanna Winsnes og standsintressene”, in Bente Gullveig Alver & Libeth Mikaelsson (eds.), KvinneMinneBok til Ida Blom på 60-årsdagen, 20 februar 1991, Bergen: Senter for humanistisk kvinneforskning, 1991, p. 187–198. Furthermore, as Jorunn Hareide contends, Winsnes’s attitude should be regarded as a defence of women’s position in the household economy since it granted them authority as well as financial responsibilities.25 Jorunn Hareide, “Saaledes findes der ofte digterisk talent, hvor man mindst formoder det”. Hanna Winsnes’ kjærlighetsromaner“, Skrivefryd og pennskrekk. Selvframstilling og skriveproblematikk hos norske 1800-tallsforfatterinner. En artikkelsamling, Oslo: Cappelen Akademisk forlag, 1999, p. 46 ff. In The Count’s Daughter the powerful housekeeper is attributed national importance.

Susanne has received a strict upbringing. In accordance with her father’s motto that “every person should make himself as useful as possible” (“ethvert Menneske skulde gjøre saa megen Nytte, han kunde”), she has been made to work in her father’s shop from an early age.26 Hanna Winsnes [pseud. Hugo Schwartz], Grevens Datter. En Novelle, Christiania: Guldberg & Dzwonkowski, 1841, p. 103. There is, to my knowledge, no English translation of the novel, and the translations are therefore my own. Orderliness and accounting skills are qualities that come in handy when she becomes housekeeper of the count’s manor house after her father falls foul of capitalism by lending money to the wrong persons and then dying from grief. Susanne’s heiress in the next generation is her niece Helene, who impresses her future husband, the parish minister, with her excellent ability to calculate butter yields based upon the amount of milk produced. The seduction is completed with her final remark: “what cannot be calculated are God’s blessings, […] always more rich than deserved” (“hvad vi ikke kunne beregne, det er Guds Velsignelse, […] altid rigeligere end vi fortjene”).27 Ibid., p. 194. On her very first visit, she immediately inspects his mismanaged outbuildings; after becoming his wife, her shrewdness in farming makes the minister a wealthy man. Economic wealth should be considered not merely as a matter of private happiness, but as a contribution to nation-building.

The shift from royal “subject” to democratic “citizen” was not as straightforward as might be expected. The independent, autonomous citizen of the Enlightenment became a very popular concept early in the eighteenth century, to the extent that different political camps, even royalists, tried to claim the concept for their own purposes.28 Bo Lindberg, Den antika skevheten. Politiska ord och begrepp i det tidig-moderna Sverige, Stockholm: Filologiskt arkiv 45, 2006, p. 100; Jakob Christensson, Lyckoriket. Studier i svensk upplysning, Stockholm: Atlantis, 1996, p. 126–139. Gustav III portrayed himself as “the first citizen” and the Russian tsar Alexander I addressed his new Finnish subjects as “citizens” at the Parliament in Borg? 1809.29 Henrika Tandefelt, Borgå 1809. Ceremoni och fest, Helsinki: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, 2009; Mikael Alm, Kungsord i elfte timmen. Språk och självbild i det gustavianska enväldets legitimitetskamp 1772–1809, Stockholm: Atlantis, 2002, p. 116–139 Thus historian Mikael Alm describes the glow surrounding the concept: “Cast in a classical style, the citizen was hailed as the useful citizen, who in patriotic ardour worked for the benefit of the fatherland.”30 Ibid., p. 119. My translation. During the last years of the eighteenth century, the political ideal of citizenship was displaced by an economic ideal: societies for house-holding and agriculture were formed, and farming manuals were issued to enlighten the common people.31 Christensson, Lyckoriket, 1996, p. 159 ff. Winsnes’s notion of citizenship is connected to this economic, useful ideal, and the novel opposes the housekeeper’s carefully calculated production of resources and virtue, to the autocratic Danish king, who is unable to calculate how much the state needs to supply in order to feed his subjects.

State governance is a running theme in Winsnes’s novel, which contrasts Danish autocracy to Norway’s free press and parliament that gave political representation to small farmers (there is no mention of the personal union between Norway and Sweden). Winsnes was a passionate advocate of the Norwegian Constitution, and the novel ends in a tone of disappointment at Denmark’s failure to form a constitution – needless to say, her novel was forbidden in Denmark.32 Hareide, “Hanna Winsnes’ kjærlighetsromaner”, 1999, p. 46 ff. Since the mid-1830s, public debate in Norway was dominated by the struggle over the construction of nationalism: while J.S. Welhaven emphasised Norway’s historical ties to Denmark, Henrik Wergeland insisted on a national idea that broke with Norway’s Danish heritage. The readers of Winsnes’s novel are introduced to this controversy by a character who calls himself neutral and who enjoys the poetry of both writers. He praises the elegant form of Welhaven’s verse, as well as Wergeland’s profundity and honest constitutional advocacy. In a spirit of harmony, he wishes to acknowledge and benefit from both parties.33 Winsnes, Grevens Datter, 1841, p. 225 f.

A lithograph of Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845) from the 1830s; source [Wikimedia Commons.](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henrik_Wergeland._Litografi.jpg) A lithograph of Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845) from the 1830s; source Wikimedia Commons.

In 1904, Ragna Nielsen, a leader of the Norwegian women’s movement, expressed disappointment with Wergeland for not having been more outspoken about women’s rights, a reticence which she found remarkable given how fiercely he had sprung to the defence of other oppressed groups. Not only that, he was the brother of Camilla Collett, who had been a pioneer of women’s rights in the 1850s. However, Dagne Groven Myhren shows that Nielsen was rather hasty in her judgement. In fact, Wergeland included women among the social groups deserving greater legal rights; in his cosmic poems, Eve and Adam are portrayed as equals, and the final vision of the future in his Mennesket (1845) predicts equality between the sexes.34 Dagne Groen Myhre, “Kvinnens ridder”, in Andreas G. Lombnæs & Jahn Holljen Thon (eds.), Bedre Tiders Morgenrøde… Utopi og modernitet hos Henrik Wergeland, Oslo: Novus forlag 2008, p. 131–150. Although Winsnes, unlike Wergeland, never promoted legal reform in relation to women’s rights, she had much to say about women’s contributions to the nation and female citizenship. In her novels, morality and domestic economy – and, by implication, the national economy – are best managed by female citizens.

The political conditions in which debates over citizenship took place differed greatly among the Nordic countries. Whereas Norway had proclaimed a constitution that was radical for the time, and tried to protect it against Swedish attempts to force Norway into a closer union, the debate in Sweden was dominated by the Liberals’ attempts to bring about a representational reform, an ambition which was not realized until 1865, when the estates of the realm were replaced by a bicameral parliament. In Finland, a so-called “political night” (statsnatten) prevailed: after 1809, parliament did not convene until 1863, which meant that the Grand Duchy was in reality built and run by officials of the state. In both Wacklin’s and Topelius’s writings, accordingly, the country’s administrators are given prominent roles: chief magistrates, district judges, and writers populate their stories and drive the plots. The 1840s is usually described as the decade in which the Finnish nationalist movement became strong; Sara Wacklin’s One Hundred Memories from Österbotten (Hundrade minnen från Österbotten, 1844–1845) is part of a nation-building project. As the title suggests, this work is, strictly speaking, less fiction than memories of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, even though its anecdotes are presented in a more or less literary form. Given the historical setting, it should come as no surprise to learn that Wacklin leans heavily upon the older ideals of the useful citizen and household economy.