Sue Prideaux: August Strindberg biography

“Sue Prideaux opens her biography of playwright August Strindberg with the Strindberg family arriving in Copenhagen during a lengthy period of self-imposed exile from Sweden. Strindberg, in search of accommodation, had been directed to the local castle by a gypsy. The family arrived at dusk and an eccentric host and hostess (ostensibly mistress and servant but actually brother and sister) proceed to put on a bizarre magic display for the Strindbergs, accompanied by dirges on a hurdy-gurdy.

Growing increasingly alarmed, Strindberg (prey to portents and magical signs) was anxious to leave. However, given a brief tour of the castle in near darkness, he finally agreed to take rooms there. Only on returning next morning did he discover the squalid state of his rooms and the noisy menagerie in the gardens. The sinister servant threatened the family with a pistol and Strindberg was seduced by a maid and subsequently charged with sexual intercourse with a minor. (It turned out she was actually above the age of consent.) The shenanigans at the castle would come to inspire some aspects of Strindberg’s most popular play, Miss Julie…”

Read the full review on SPIKED, 25 May 2012 here: