Go Back

Göran Schildt

Göran Gustaf Ernst Schildt
Born March 11, 1917, Helsinki. Died March 24, 2009, Tammisaari.

Master of Arts, 1943, Doctor of Philosophy (Art History), 1947, University of Helsinki

Reporter, Svenska Dagbladet newspaper 1950-1995

Commander, First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland, 1980
Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, 1954
Knight Commander, Grand Cross of the Phoenix, 1954
Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, 1987
Honorary Doctor of Technology, University of Tampere, 1987
Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, Åbo Akademi, 1988
Honorary Doctor of Architecture, University of Lund, 1991

The Tollander Award, 1952, 1991
State Award for Public Information, 1983
Swedish Literary Society Award, 1986, 1988
Kirjallisuuden Suomi  (Finnish literary) Award, 1995

Photo: Schildts&Söderströms/Vidar Lindqvist
Written by Lauri Lönnström
Translated by John Calton

Free to write

Göran Schildt graduated with a Master’s degree in 1943 from the University of Helsinki. And in the same year his first novel was published: Önskeleken (‘In the wake of a wish’) is a bildungsroman set on the battle front during the Winter War and tells the story of a relationship between two men and Italy.

In 1946, Schildt published a biography of the French painter, Paul Cézanne, and a study of the French writer André Gide. In the following year, he defended his doctoral thesis which examined Cézanne’s personality and offered a psychological interpretation of his art. Schildt was one of the first in Finland to address the problem of modern art and art psychology.

Having gained a doctorate, Schildt came close to being appointed as professor of art history, but at the eleventh hour he chose the path of the freelance writer. It proved to be a good move: from 1949 his travelogues describing his trips to the Mediterranean were hugely popular and gave him a measure of financial independence.

Schildt wrote essay collections, most of which dealt with central problems in art and culture. He was the culture critic between 1950 and 1955 for the Swedish-language daily Svenska Dagbladet, and reported, among others, on cultural affairs from the Soviet Union, where he lived for a few months in the winter of 1953/4.

Schildt’s most important work was probably his biography of Alvar Aalto. It was published in three volumes: in 1982, Det vita bordet (‘The white table’-trans. Alvar Aalto. The Early Years), in 1985, Moderna tider (‘Modern times’ – trans. Alvar Aalto. The Decisive Years), and in 1990, ‘Den mänskliga faktorn’(‘The humane maker’, trans. Alvar Aalto. The Mature Years). Schildt was a good friend of Aalto’s and published a number of books on his design work. When Aalto died in 1976, Schildt was given access to his private archive, which meant he was able to make the most of his own as well as Aalto’s memories about architecture. Besides this official biography, Schildt published an inclusive account of Aalto’s work, A Life’s Work (1994).

Photo: Schildt&Söderströms/Vidar Lindqvist.​
Photo: Schildt&Söderströms/Vidar Lindqvist.​


Go Back