|My name is Peter Englund, and I am a Swedish historian and author. I am also a member of the Swedish Academy – most well know internationally as the ones who hands out the Nobel Prize for Literature – and since the year of 2009 I am the Permanent Secretary there.
I was born in 1957 in Boden in the Norrbotten province in northern Sweden, pretty close to the polar circle, and grew up in the town. In 1980 I moved to Uppsala and studied archaeology, theoretical philosophy and history at the university there. I began working on my doctorate but then broke off and started to working for military intelligence in my home country. After a couple of years I returned happily to academia and received my PhD in 1989 on a thesis about the ideology and world view of the 17th century Swedish nobility. (Swedish title “Det hotade huset”: ”A House in Peril”.)
One year before, my first book had appeared; it was about the great historical battle in the Ukraine 1709, when the Swedish invasion of Russia was finally defeated. To my great surprise it was a success, it has up until now been translated into eleven language. (English title: ”The Battle that shook Europe – Poltava and the birth of the Russian Empire”) My next book was published in 1991 and consisted of historical essays. (It has been translated into four languages, among them German, where it was given the title ”Die Marx-Brothers in Petrograd – Reisen in die Landschaft der Vergangenheit”). A great many of the texts represented there began life as articles in the Swedish newspaper Expressen, to which I was affiliated for some ten years. During those ten years I not only wrote essays and reviews but also undertook a number of reportage assignments to the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. After that, I wrote for a number of years for Scandinavias largest morning daily Dagens Nyheter.
After I was awarded my PhD I started working on a large-scale work about the 17th century, the first of which appeared in 1993. The Swedish title for that one is ”Ofredsår” (”Years of trouble” – approximately). This book is centered on the Thirty Years war, and it has been translated into five languages, including Czech, Polish and German. (German title: ”Die verwüstung Deutschlands”) The second volume appeared in 2000, and covers mainly the big crisis in Eastern Europe during the 1650-ies. (”Den oövervinnerlige”: ”The invincible one”). I have also written two more books of essays, a short biography of the famous 17th century Queen Christina, and a collection of war reportage.
My latest book is about the First World War, and was published in Sweden in 2008. (English title: ”The Beauty and the Sorrow”). Up until now it has been sold to twentyfour countries, including USA, the UK, Germany, Holland, France, Spain, Russia, Italy, Poland, Serbia, South Korea, Brazil and Turkey.
Earlier I lectured in History at Uppsala University, but I had to give that up in 2001 when I was appointed Professor of Narratology at the Institute of Drama in Stockholm. I left that post in 2005 in order to concentrate on my writing.
Since 2002 I have been a Member of the Swedish Academy. I hold Chair Number 10. I was the Permanent Secretary of this assembly from 2009 until June this year. (I will of course continue working as a ordinary member of the Academy.) I have started on a new book, and when I can see that my idea will actually work I will tell you more about it.
I live in the university town of Uppsala, north of Stockholm. I am married with five children.