Gustaf Fröding was born in Alster outside Karlstad in Värmland. He had an insecure childhood after his sister died early on and his father suffered from a psychological disorder. His mother, who became the sole caretaker of the home, suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be taken to a mental institution. An elder sister, Cecilia, then cared for Fröding and became his support and his storyteller in life.
Fröding studied at Uppsala University and worked as a journalist in Karlstad. After having inherited some money from his father, Fröding began drinking heavily. It was the beginning of a vicious circle that was to plague him throughout life. Women scorned him, he became an alcoholic and soon he succumbed to mental illness.
In 1891 Fröding debuted with “Guitarr och dragharmonika”, inspired by Verner von Heidenstam. When his 1896 poem collection (“Stänk och flikar”) was published, the poem "En morgondröm" caused quite a stir for its sexually charged content, and Fröding was brought on trial for obscenity (he was freed after 2 hours).
Fröding then spent the rest of his life at various mental institutions and hospitals, trying to cure his alcoholism and severe mental illness. He spent several years at the institution, Suttestad in Norway, where he also wrote many poems. But he never got well.
Fröding has been called “tillvarons utlänning” and is a poet who, more than others perhaps, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. His poetry combines formal virtuosity with sympathy for the ordinary, the neglected and the downtrodden. It is highly lyrical and therefore lends itself beautifully to musical settings; as songs Fröding’s poems have gained a wide reaching popularity. Swedish singers like Olle Adolphson and Monica Zetterlund, among many others, have recorded his songs. Gustaf Fröding died in January 1911 and is buried at Uppsala gamla kyrkogård.

Jag köpte min kärlek för pengar,
för mig var ej annan att få,
sjung vackert, i skorrande strängar,
sjung vackert om kärlek ändå.