Gunilla Bergström was born in 1942 in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she studied at the Institute of Journalism. She worked as a journalist until 1975, when she became a full-time author. Her first children’s book, Mias pappa flyttar (“Mia’s Dad Moves Out”), published in 1971, has been followed by about 40 others, which she also illustrated.
In 1972, God natt, Alfons Åberg (Good night, Alfie Atkins) came out. The books about Alfie Atkins have been translated to over 30 languages. Gunilla has also written children’s songs and adapted her stories into theatre plays.
Gunilla Bergström has been pioneering in many ways, thematically as well as artistically. She was the first to introduce the collage as a story telling device in picture books and the first to write about divorce for children. Very early on in the world of children’s books she used a dad instead of a mom as the primary parent in her stories – Alfie’s dad in the series about Alfie Atkins – and she received enormous attention as the first children’s writer to write openly and candidly about handicaps in her story about Bill and the secret child Bolla. Gunilla prefers to write about the everyday lives of children, about human behavior, but always from the perspective of the child. Her books are about the kind of things every child can recognize. But she says there should also be room for something imagined, unexpected!
Gunilla received the Astrid Lindgren Prize in 1981 and was awarded a medal from the Swedish government in 2012. In Gothenburg is a children’s culture house dedicated to Alfie, Alfons Åbergs kulturhus.