European Union Prize for Literature

Creative EuropeEuropean and International Booksellers FederationEuropean Writers' CouncilFederation of European Publishers

Winning Authors

Helena Henschen, Sweden

About the author:

Helena Henschen (b. 1940 - † 2011) was born and raised in Stockholm. She has an artistic background and has worked as a graphic designer. Henschen has both written and illustrated children's books and she was one of the founders of the famous Swedish design company Mah-Jong.

Publishing house:

Rightholder: Kristina Henschen (daugther)
stinahenschen@hotmail.com

Translation deals:

Book awarded:

I skuggan av ett brott (The Shadow of a Crime)

Synopsis:

The von Sydow murders received renewed attention in Sweden in 2004 as a result of the publication of the book I skuggan av ett brott by Helena Henschen, whose mother was the younger sister of Fredrik von Sydow. The book is a mixture of fact and fiction, and constitutes an attempt to understand both the taboo that arose within the family in relation to the crime, and also why Fredrik von Sydow committed the murders.

Fredrik von Sydow came from an upper-class family in Stockholm and studied Law at Uppsala University. On March 7, 1932, his father Hjalmar von Sydow - who was a conservative Member of Parliament and the managing director and chairman of the Swedish Employers' Federation - and two maids employed in the household were found dead in the family residence in Stockholm, all bludgeoned to death with an iron bar.

Even though the police soon came to suspect the son, Fredrik, it took a few hours before they were able to locate him. Fredrik von Sydow had taken a taxi with his wife Ingun to Uppsala where they entered the restaurant of Hotel Gillet and ordered champagne, caviar and oysters. When the police eventually arrived at the restaurant, Fredrik von Sydow shot and killed his wife and himself.

Excerpt:

Translated by: Carla Wiberg

Uppsala, March 7, 1932.

Law student Christian Fredrik Viktor Albert von Sydow, aged 23 years; date of birth June 4, 1908; height approximately 178 cm; slim build; face longish, somewhat bloated; hair light brown, parted on right; eyes grey-blue; nose fairly large, somewhat upturned, crossed by a slanting scar; mouth and chin ordinary; also, a small but deep scar on right-hand side of lower jaw; probably wearing a black suitcoat, striped trousers, white collar, black tie, pale grey overcoat and a tall black hat.
Wife of the above, Sofie von Sydow, aged 23 years; date of birth March 6, 1909; height approximately 175 cm; slim build; hair ash-blond; very good-looking; wearing a dark dress, long dark coat with Persian lamb on collar and sleeves, a small black hat and black boots.
Wanted on suspicion of murder.

Stockholm Police Authority

The alert reached Uppsala police at ten p.m., on Monday 7 March 1932, a few hours after district court judge Hjalmar von Sydow and two female servants had been found beaten to death in an apartment on Norr Mälarstrand road in Stockholm. Suspicion fell immediately on the judge´s son, Fredrik von Sydow.
Fredrik and his wife arrived in Uppsala in a taxi-cab at twenty to eight the same evening, and the car pulled up outside Stadshotellet, the city’s foremost hotel. When cab driver Erik Oskar Valdemar Nordkvist read about the murders the following day, and saw the picture published in the newspaper, he felt sure that last evening’s passengers were Fredrik von Sydow and his wife. He noted that Mrs. von Sydow had looked much better in real life than in the newsprint photograph.

More info on the author with excerpt in o.v. and EN or FR (PDF)