Per Olov Enquist

Per Olov Enquist
Per Olov Enquist at the Swedish Sports Awards inside the Stockholm Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden in January 2013
Per Olov Enquist at the Swedish Sports Awards inside the Stockholm Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden in January 2013
Born(1934-09-23)23 September 1934
Hjoggböle, Sweden
Died25 April 2020(2020-04-25) (aged 85)
Vaxholm, Sweden
OccupationJournalist, playwright and novelist
Notable workThe Visit of the Royal Physician
Enquist presenting himself at the Gothenburg bookfair in 2012.

Per Olov Enquist, also known as P. O. Enquist, (23 September 1934 – 25 April 2020) was a Swedish author. He had worked as a journalist, playwright and novelist.


Enquist was born and raised in Hjoggböle [sv], a village in present-day Skellefteå Municipality, Västerbotten. He was the only son of a single mother, who became a widow when he was half a year old. In his youth, he was a promising athlete with a high jump personal best of 1.97 meters. He studied at Uppsala University, receiving a degree in the history of literature.

During his time in Uppsala he started writing, his first novel Kristallögat being published in 1961, and became a newspaper journalist. Enquist won the Nordic Council's Literature Prize in 1968 for Legionärerna, his account of Sweden's deportation of Baltic-country soldiers at the end of the second world war which also became his international breakthrough. He would write several more books based on true events, including Kapten Nemos bibliotek (1991) about Bureåfallet [sv] where two newly born boys were accidentally switched, Livläkarens besök (1999), Lewis resa (2001) about Pentecostalist Lewi Pethrus, and Boken om Blanche och Marie (2004) about Marie Curie and mental patient Marie "Blanche" Wittman. Enquist's first stage play was Tribadernas natt (1975), a story about Swedish author August Strindberg, his soon-to-be ex-wife Siri von Essen, and von Essen's presumed lover Marie David [sv].

Awards for his writing have included the Dobloug Prize in 1988, the Selma Lagerlöf Prize in 1997, and the Italian Flaiano Prize in 2002. Besides books and stage plays, Enquist also wrote screenplays for motion pictures, including Pelle Erövraren (1987) and Hamsun (1996), and at the 27th Guldbagge Awards in 1993, Enquist was nominated for the award for Best Screenplay for the film Il Capitano: A Swedish Requiem. He also received the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize as well as the Nelly Sachs Prize in 2003 for Livläkarens besök, based on the true story of Johann Friedrich Struensee, who was the mentally ill Danish King Christian VII's physician, and his political machinations and relationship with Christian's wife Caroline Matilda in the 1770s. Livläkarens besök also became the first of two books Enquist wrote that were awarded the August Prize, the other being his 2008 autobiography Ett annat liv. Enquist was awarded the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2009 and the Swedish Academy's Nordic Prize in 2010.

Enquist died on 25 April 2020 after a prolonged struggle with cancer.


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