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The Woman Who Fought Back

girlwhoplayedwithfireSTOCKHOLM: “This will not come to any resolution. There´s too much at stake. All I can do is to write my book about it,” says Eva Gabrielsson, the long time partner of the late bestselling author Stieg Larsson.

Gabrielsson’s memoir, tentatively called The Year After Stieg, is likely to generate a great deal of publicity, so much so that Gabrielsson declines to reveal the name of the publisher. “The publisher will announce when the book is finished and in print,” she wrote in an email. “Until then, it´s better if we can work in peace.”

Why the interest? Well, Larsson’s novels – the bestselling Millennium trilogy, which starts with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — have sold 12 million copies worldwide. Gabrielsson is in the midst of a contentious battle over control of the estate.

Currently valued at some 100 million Swedish kronor  ($13 million), Larsson’s estate is likely to double or triple in coming years as the books continue to appear in more languages around the world (the second volume, The Girl who Played with Fire is scheduled to be published in the US this July).

Gabrielsson, now 54, lived with Stieg Larsson from 1974 until his death in 2004. Yet, due to Swedish inheritance laws, she was not entitled to a single krona. Instead, Larsson’s father and brother, with whom Eva claims Larsson had little contact, inherited the rights to the books.

“In Scandinavia, inheritances are “distributed” by law. People very seldom write testaments,” wrote Gabrielsson. “And Stieg lived under the impression that the special Cohabitation Act for common law relationships would also include inheritance. It does not. And that law also gives me no rights to go to court.” Her only hope is to try and reach a settlement with his family, something she’s pursued through her lawyer.

Among the items being fought over is Larsson’s laptop, which is said to contain some 200 pages of manuscript for a fourth novel and, it is speculated, outlines for further books. At one point, the family offered Gabrielsson their share of the apartment where she lived with Larsson in exchange for the laptop, a tactic Gabrielsson described as extortion.

The case has generated interest all over Europe, where Larsson’s books have topped bestseller lists.

“Earlier this year, I was watching a documentary about the case,” said Jan Moberg by phone from Drammen, Norway, “and I got the feeling someone had to do something about this.” Moburg, a former executive with Edda Media (Norway’s third largest newspaper company) marshaled his resources, and within three weeks launched a Web site to raise money and support for Gabrielsson’ s cause.

The site went live on April 22 and has raised $5,000 in less than a month; 62 people have signed the guestbook, some from as far away as Guyana and Chile. The site requests a modest donation of $3 per book read “if you’re annoyed” by the situation or $15 or more per book “if you’re really furious.”

“It’s like the plot of a Larsson novel,” said Moburg. “He wrote about how women are abused by men and about how they sometimes fight back. That was one of the messages of the books – to fight back. That’s what we’re trying to help her do.”

Gabrielsson says she’s grateful for the help. Though the legal negotiations have not put her in debt, she acknowledges, “three and a half years of this is expensive and sooner or later I will run out of funds or become unemployed, especially in these times of crisis. Then what do I do then? Give up?”

No. You fight back. It’s what Stieg would have wanted.

DONATE: To Eva Gabrielsson’s cause

WRITE: Her a message of support

WATCH: An interview with Gabrielsson on her fight

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  1. winnie
    Posted July 21, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Read the first two books…. go girl a big support from South Africa-
    Fight back…

  2. Christina
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Of course Eva should have the money.

  3. mirain
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    The question is not whether Eva should fight back but why Swedish law is so backwards on this issue!

  4. myming
    Posted November 3, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    fight back, eva !

    is there a way to petition the swedish government to change the law ?

  5. ANNA
    Posted November 20, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Eva, all Stieg’s affectionate readers are with you.
    He must have been a great man, and you have been lucky to share your life with him.
    Fight on and don’t give up.

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  8. primohag
    Posted February 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    How on earth can Sweden call itself a progressive country when its inheritance laws are so far behind those of the US? Even here in the States, we are starting to allow gay unions and marriages addressing problems of inheritance, pensions, etc. How can women in Sweden be so badly treated? Shame on you.

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  14. navi
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Fight back EVA!!!! Remember Lisbeth… Steig wants to portray he loves the most thru her.. You know its you.. love..

  15. Kay
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    Fight back Eva! Fight back!

  16. Posted April 23, 2010 at 12:25 am | Permalink

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  18. ajam
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Simply do not purchase any more of Stieg’s books, get them from the library, or download them over the internet.

  19. Jean Young
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Fight back Eva. Women all over the world need your example.

  20. Jean
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Well, the Sweden reflected in the Millenium trilogy & through this neolithic legal battle (which only confirms Larsson’s view of the male-dominated, misogynistic culture of his native land) will certainly never be on my list of places in the world I must see. This lady gave up the right to marry him in order to prolong his life, and she is now given the shaft. We can only hope that enough of Swedish society snubs the father & brother that their miserably rich lives will gainsay little happiness from this out and out huge scale embezzlement. She lived with & protected Stieg for nearly twice as many years as he would have ever lived with this father & brother. It is incredible to us in the US that this issue would not have been resolved by now. Swedish law on this subject brings to mind the death penalty for women in Saudi Arabia & Iran for certain misfeasances. This lady deserves so much more.

  21. Posted September 1, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink


  22. marie
    Posted June 12, 2011 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    be brave. and smile.

  23. Linda Knutsson
    Posted August 3, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Inheritance law in Sweden can be very, very rotten even with a will. If a sibling is left out of a will (as in my Swedish husband’s case) he is supposed to receive 25% inheritance in Sweden. No need to contest a phony homemade will. Besides, lawyers are very expensive to challenge such wills. His father died in May 2007 (Orebro, Sweden) and to date my husband has never received a cent and it’s a substantial estate at that. Court-appointed Swedish lawyer never answers his mail and court itself is uncaring and doesn’t seem worried that estate remains unsettled. It is too bad that my husband’s health here in Canada is so poor (age 69 and the older son) to go to Sweden. His brother is a master manipulator of the probate court. I used to think that the USA (followed by Canada) were the worst countries for this kind of thing but Sweden takes the number one spot now. My heart goes out to Eva and her fight.

  24. Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I cannot believe this still happening in 2012. I wish she helps to change this laws!

9 Trackbacks

  1. […] Sense of Snow in 1994. On that note, one of our very first stories at Publishing Perspectives way back in May discussed the ongoing legal dispute that Eva Gabrielsson, the long time partner of Stieg Larsson, […]

  2. […] had een partner: Eva Gabrielsson. In een testament dat Larsson in 1977 had opgesteld, bepaalde hij dat zijn nalatenschap naar de […]

  3. By Hypercrime - Incidents in The Nordic Scene on February 26, 2010 at 10:08 am

    […] governing inheritance in common law relationships, not seen any royalties for the books, and is reportedly writing a book of her own about […]

  4. […] thorough examination of his legacy that I’ve yet seen. It’s also a nice bookend to the very first article we published here at Publishing Perspectives — The Woman Who Fought Back — a little more […]

  5. By Publishing Perspectives is One Year Old! on May 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    […] first break-out story on Eva Gabrielsson, the long-time partner of Stieg Larsson, and the battle over Larsson’s […]

  6. […] In the meantime, her story continues here:  http://publishingperspectives.com/?p=291 […]

  7. […] in January 2011, the English marketwill ahve to wait until June 2011. In a 2009 interview with Publishing Perspectives, Gabrielsson mentioned a memoir tentatively titled The Year After […]

  8. […] and met me in an abandoned apartment. She was writing a book called One year after Stieg (which she discussed with us here) and she was struggling with it. I invited her to my wedding in France and she came, there was such […]

  9. […] had een partner: Eva Gabrielsson. In een testament dat Larsson in 1977 had opgesteld, bepaalde hij dat zijn nalatenschap naar de […]

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