Today in 1944, something happened that would bring about one of the most popular set of children’s books ever written, the ones starring none other than Pippi Longstocking.
The author of those books was Astrid Lindgren, who was, back then, a secretary who lived and worked in Stockholm, Sweden.
The character came years before the books did. Lindgren’s seven year old daughter was sick in bed and asked for a story about someone called Pippi Langstrump, or, in English, Longstocking.
Lindgren played along, inventing a wild backstory about a nine year old with bright red hair who lived with a horse, a monkey and a trunkful of gold given to her by her father before he disappeared at sea.
Pippi was adventurous, fearless and, to the dismay of many future readers’ parents, not too concerned about what adults thought of her.
After all, she didn’t have any grown-ups at her house to tell her what to do!
Lots of families have their own stories and characters that stay within the family, and that’s where Pippi might have stayed forever.
Except that on March 28, 1944, three years after telling that first story to amuse her sick daughter, Astrid Lindgren slipped on some ice and sprained her ankle.
Stuck in bed, looking for something to do, she decided to take the Pippi stories she’d told her daughter and write them up as a birthday present.
Somewhere along the way she decided to send a copy of the manuscript to a publisher, though she was turned down.
Her first break into publishing came from a different book, “Britt-Mari Opens Her Heart.”
The next year, Lindgren submitted the Pippi Longstocking manuscript to a contest, won first prize, and launched a series of books that would sell tens of millions of copies in the decades to come.
So the lesson is, if you sprain your ankle and you have a story to tell, maybe it’s time to tell it.
Today in 2005, an ultramarathon runner from Tucson, Arizona, Pam Reed, set a world record by running 301 miles.
She ran for 79 hours and 55 minutes without stopping.
Reed said she got sleepy each day at around 2am, but “I kind of closed my eyes and it went away.”
Tucsonan Reed sets world record with 300-mile run (Tucson.com)