Johanna was Erik’s secret love

Anders Jörle has always known that his grandmother’s mother Johanna lived unmarried and had three children with a married man. All he knew was that the man’s name was Erik Carlsten. It was only when Anders started genealogical research that he was able to understand what Johanna’s living conditions looked like in at the end of the 19th century.

Erik was well off and titled himself director and wholesaler. He married Hilma, a young woman whose father was a manufacturer. Hilma came from the same social class as Erik. At the same time as Hilma was expecting their first child, Johanna was also pregnant. She came from much simpler circumstances and made a living as a laundress, among other things.

This was no casual affair. Johanna and Erik had three children who were born in 1886, 1893 and 1898. Hilma had four children with Erik and they were born in 1886, 1888, 1890 and 1894.

Anders has in his possession a poem that Johanna wrote when she was expecting her first child, and from the poem it is clear that the child she was carrying was wanted and longed for.

That two people with such different class affiliations as Erik and Hilma could even meet is a bit of a mystery, says Hans Nilsson who is a professor of history at Linköping University.

– There was a huge gap between Erik and Johanna and they moved in completely different circles. Nevertheless, they would probably have been able to get married if Erik had not already been married, says Hans Nilsson. After all, this happened at the time of the breakthrough of liberalism and then a kind of practical liberalism was also practiced and it happened that successful bourgeois people married people from the “lower class”. But the main rule was of course that you stayed within your own circle.

The program is made by
Gunilla Nordlund and Elisabeth Renström
Narrator: Malin Avenius
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