Soon after he was born in Skelleftehamn, Stieg lived with his maternal grandparents in a tiny, remote village called Bjursele. It isn’t easy to find. Even Google Earth depicts the area as a dense forest.
The best way to track-down the place, where Stieg spent his formative years, is to locate the Arctic Circle, as it makes its way across northern Sweden. South of the Circle, by around 250 miles, we find the towns of Umeå (where Stieg lived after his grandfather died) and Skellefteå (where his parents met).
Bjursele (click on the star until you can read the name of the village) lies to the northwest of Umeå and Skellefteå. It is a place where ice forms on windows when the outside temperature plummets.
To find Stieg’s childhood village on a satellite map, use its decimal coordinates: +63 30 00 (latitude) and +19 15 00 (longitude). The nearest major airport, at Helsinki, is about 574 km away.
What caused Stieg to live with his grandparents for eight years of his life? His father (Erland) and mother (Evianne) hoped to find jobs in Stockholm (hundreds of miles south) after Stieg (their first child) was born (in 1954). To make that happen, they entrusted the care of their son to Evianne’s parents.
With no television and no school, Stieg began his education at his grandparents’ cottage. He loved to read and listened, for hours, to his grandpa’s stories. Severin Boström (move the slide show forward, to "next, 1955") - who had opposed the Nazi regime during WWII - was a constant source of fascination for his grandson.
Later - when the boy who loved to read became a writer who spun great tales - Larsson wove Bjursele into his storyline:
Bjursele was like a poster for the Västerbotten country village. It consisted of about twenty houses set relatively close together in a semicircle at one end of a lake...At the height of summer, it was as pretty as a postcard. (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - paperback edition - by Stieg Larsson, page 362.)
His idyllic life, with the grandfather he adored, ended when Severin died. By that time, Stieg’s parents had moved to Umeå with Joakim (their second son). Larsson and his grandmother left their home in the woods and moved into the family’s one-bedroom flat. Sleeping arrangements were atrocious:
In their tiny one-bedroom apartment, Stieg’s grandmother took the sofa, while Stieg and Joakim had a bunk bed. Their parents slept in the hall, on the floor. Stieg, disturbed by this upheaval and Severin’s death, retreated into his fantasies. (Nathaniel Rich, “The Mystery of the Dragon Tattoo,” Rolling Stone, Issue 1120/1121, December 23, 2010, page 107.)
To cope with his vastly different life, Stieg - move the timeline to 1962, to see how he looked when he reunited with his family - began to write short stories. He was delighted, at the age of thirteen, when his parents gave him a typewriter (for his birthday).
As a teenager, during the 1970s, Stieg became interested in magazine writing. Sometime after he started his own science-fiction fanzine, he applied to the Stockholm School of Journalism.
Denied admittance, Stieg was undaunted and decided to look for stories in Africa. Surely - if he did good work - Swedish editors would publish his articles? He did ... but ... they didn’t.
Larsson returned to Sweden, broke and sick (he’d contracted malaria in Africa). Unable to pursue his dreams, Stieg applied for work at the Stockholm post office where his job was loading packages.
Against the war in Vietnam, Stieg attended a protest rally. He met Eva Gabrielsson - move the time line forward to 1972 - with whom he would spend the rest of his life.
Then ... a friend helped Stieg to catch a break. He secured a position at TT (Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå) - Sweden’s version of the AP (Associated Press). Although his job was to type other people’s words, at least Stieg was working within the journalistic establishment.
Yet ... by the time he was 40 years old, Larsson had not achieved his goals as a writer. Although he’d been promoted from typist to graphic-artist, he was still working with other people’s words - not creating his own stories. For whatever reason, TT’s editors were bypassing Stieg when they handed-out writing assignments.
It was time for Stieg to start his own magazine in which he could publish his own words. He called it “Expo.”