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Bo Carpelan

Bo Gustaf Bertelsson Carpelan
Born October 25, 1926, Helsinki. Died February 11, 2011, Espoo.

Master of Arts (Literature), 1948, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1956, Doctor of Philosophy, 1960, University of Helsinki
Library Diploma, School of Social Sciences, Tampere
Studies in France (1951), United States (1961), England (1962)

Honorary Arts Professor, 1980–1993
Study counsellor, 1950-59; section librarian 1960–64; Assistant librarian, 1964–80, Helsinki City Library
Literary reviewer, 1949–64, Huvudstadsbladet newspaper
Board Member, Finlands svenska författareförening (Society of Swedish writers in Finland), 1950–70
Finnish representative, Nordic Council of Ministers, 1965–71

Le Prix Européen de Littérature, 2007
Svenska Akademiens nordiska pris (Ruotsi) 1997
Finlandia Prize 1993, 2005
Suomen runoilijaliiton Vuoden runoilija (Finnish poetry association, poet of the year) 1993
National award for translation, 1986
Karl Emil Tollander prize 1983
Pro Finlandia (award for non-fiction), 1978
Nordic Council Literature Prize, 1977
Nuorisokirjallisuuden valtionpalkinto (’ Young writers’ national award’) 1969, 1989
Valtion kirjallisuuspalkinto (’National award for writing’) 1967, 1972, 1987, 1989

Photo: Schildts & Söderströms
Written by Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by John Calton

Twice Finlandia winner, and much else besides

Bo Carpelan was one of the most productive Finnish writers in the second half of the twentieth century. He was also one of the most popular Swedish-speaking Finnish writers of his time. His broad and important output garnered him numerous honours.

Carpelan is the first, and to date the only writer to receive the Finnish Book Foundation’s Finlandia prize twice. The first award was for the novel Urwind (1993) and the second for the novel Berg (2005). This second raised some discussion in that since 1993 the prize had only been awarded to a novel. In some quarters there was concern that Berg, written in diary form did not count as a novel.

During a long career Carpelan got most of the awards and honours that a Swedish writer could hope for. He was recognised both in his own country and abroad, and perhaps the most prestigious honour was the French Prix Européen de Littérature. It is a literary prize awarded by the city of Strasbourg, and is given to the writer whose works represent European cultural forms particularly well and promote understanding between European cultures.

Bo Carpelan’s second Finlandia prizewinning novel Berg (2005) aroused debate. Picture: Schildts & Söderströms.​
Bo Carpelan’s second Finlandia prizewinning novel Berg (2005) aroused debate. Picture: Schildts & Söderströms.​

Honours granted to Bo Carpelan:

  • Le Prix Européen de Littérature (France), 2007
  • Espoon kulttuuripalkinto (cultural award from the city of Espoo, Finland), 2006
  • Finlandia Prize for Berg, 2005
  • Pro Cultura Espoo award, 2001
  • Pilot Prize (Sweden), 1998
  • Svenska Akademiens nordiska pris (’Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize’), 1997
  • Tanssiva karhu (’Dancing bear’) poetry prize, 1996
  • Aniarapriset (Sweden), 1995
  • De Nios stora pris, 1995
  • Finlandia Prize for Urwind, 1993
  • Poet of the Year, Suomen runoilijaliitto - Finnish Association of Poets, 1993
  • Svenska kulturfondens stora kulturpris (’Swedish Cultural Foundation, Grand Prize’), 1991
  • Kansainvälisen nuortenkirjaneuvosto, Diploma of the International Board of Books for Young People, 1991
  • Kiitos kirjasta (’Thank you for the book’) medal for Axel, 1988
  • Litteraturfrämjandets stora romanpris (Ruotsi), 1987
  • Finnish State Award for Translation, 1986
  • Catalogue of the International Board of Books for Young People, 1984
  • Karl Emil Tollander grand literary prize awarded by Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, 1983
  • Expressens Heffaklump pris (Swedish Expressen newspaper’s children’s and young adults’ literature prize), 1982
  • Ferlinpriset (Sweden), 1981
  • Pro Finlandia, 1978
  • Övralidspriset (Sweden), 1978
  • Nordic Council’s Prize for Literature, (for the poetry collection I de mörka rummen, i de ljusa ‘In the dark room, in the bright light ‘ ), 1977
  • Espoo prize, 1973
  • Svenska Akademiens Finlandspris (Award granted by the Swedish Academy for promoting Swedish-speaking Finnish culture), 1971
  • Finnish state award for young people’s writing, 1969, 1989
  • Nils Holgersson badge (Swedish library association’s children’s and young adults prize) for Bågen, 1969
  • Finnish State Prize for Literature, 1951, 1967 , 1972, 1987, 1989
  • Carl Emil Englund Prize ( Swedish Litteraturfrämjandet prize for lyric poetry), 1967
  • Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland (’Society for Swedish literature in Finland’) literary award, 1967



  • Otava, Bo Carpelan, Otava publishing house writer’s profile. Accessed March 24, 2015.
  • Johan Wrede, “Carpelan, Bo”, National Biography of Finland online. Accessed March 24, 2015.
  • Wikipedia, Bo Carpelan. Accessed March 24, 2015.
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