Ann Mari Sjögren Articles from
the Swedish Press
Twenty well known fairy
illustrators from all over the world participate
in the english anthology “The Art of Faery”.
Oldest in the company is Ann Mari Sjögren, 85,
In the land of the Fairy Queen.
For sixty years Ann Mari Sjögren has illustrated
children’s books. Many of them are about fairies,
and inspiration to the first one came from a dragonfly.
Headline: The pictures of the Fairy Queen are all over
Ann Mari Sjögren’s drawings are in a new
book about fairy illustrators.
Text: Christina Kallum
Photo: Lisbeth Westerlund
It is like ringing the door bell at the Fairy Queen’s
During sixty years Ann Mari Sjögren, 85, has illustrated
about twenty children’s books, many of them about
And in a recently published english anthology, “The
Art of Faery” with twenty well known illustrators
from all over the world, she is the grand old lady.
One of the artists in the book had my first book as
a child, she sat in the knee of her grandmother, who
read it for her, says Ann Mari Sjögren with a
Ann Mari has filled the desk in her study with clippings,
illustrations and fairy books of all kinds.
Her first book, “En dag i Älvriket” came
1945. Three years later it was translated into English
as ”A Day in Fairy Land”. It was published
in ten different languages, but Ann Mari Sjögren’s
own copy got lost and she never saw or heard much of
it later on.
But it was precisely “A Day in Fairy Land” that
the Englishman David Riché had seen. Now he
promptly wanted this illustrator to be included in
his anthology presenting the twenty best fairy illustrators
of the world.
But where was the artist Ana Mae Seagren to be found?
He searched for eighteen months all over the world.
After trying his luck on the internet, at museums and
libraries he finally got a Swede “on the hook” who
sent an e-mail, revealing that the real name of Ana
Mae Seagren is Ann Mari Sjögren, living in Helsingborg.
Here one has lived a quiet life for all these years,
says Ann Mari Sjögren, who hardly had seen the
book since it was published, but who now has experienced
quite a lot of excitement around her own person.
First the Englishmen came to visit. Then the press.
Some time ago there was also a call in the middle of
the night from Hongkong, a man who said he wanted to
publish my book in three languages in millions of copies,
she says and doesn’t know precisely what will
become of it, since she has left the matter to her
Ann Mari Sjögren lives in a cosy attic apartment
with a view over the Öresund strait. Her home
is filled with art of all kinds, many of the paintings
are of her own hand.
She was born in Nyhamnsläge in 1918, was educated
as a commercial artist at Reklamkonstskolan in Stockholm,
and later worked at Kärnan publishers in Helsingborg,
at a time when they started to publish children’s
At that time all books for children looked the same.
A small farm, animals, idyll. Then I came with a proposition
about these fairies.
It was almost a shock, and – to be honest – also
such a success, she says.
Up at lake Västersjön in northwestern Skåne
[Scania] she and her husband Stig had bought a cabin.
Nature and the envioronment there inspired her, and
could be recognized in her fantasy landscapes.
One day Ann Mari Sjögren sat drawing on a stone,
as a dragonfly passed by with its light blue, striped
That was the inspiration for the illustrations in “En
dag i Älvriket”, she says.
Therefore, her fairies became small girls with blue
striped shirts with light small wings on their backs.
Normally fairies are depicted as fragile beings dresses
in white, dancing at dawn in the dew-sprinkled grass.
Among fairy illustrations, drawings and fairy tale
books on the desk ther is an old clip with an advertisment
from an american paper, showing the once so famous
actress Joan Crawford, reading from “A Day in
Fairy Land” for her four adopted children.
The family idyll is intence in that picture. But the
daughter Christina later revealed the truth in her
book “Mommie dearest”, where she described
the mother as a really evil whitch.
But there were not only fairies in the life of Ann
It was a lonely work, drawing at home, she says, and
therefore she worked as a art teacher from time to
Then came a time of more mischief in school, so I turned
to teaching adults who wanted to learn something, for
example croquis or batik.
Her old books like “Lill, foundling of the animals” and “The
Princess and the Pirate” she has had to borrow
from her nephews, as her own copies have disappeared.
They are very well read, and that is fun, Ann Mari
Sjögren says amused, holding some well worn copies.
She is still in the Land of Fairies.
In her next book, the third one she makes together
with author Lena Lindh, the fairies are more modern.
They are in school age, study history and have sports
lika any other small girls.
If I keep on for a while, I guess there will also be “The
pensioned fairies” she says with a laugh.