July 27 In Swedish History
1939: The first children’s book about Pelle Svanslös by Gösta Knutsson is being published. Pelle Svanslös (or Peter-No-Tail, as he is known in English) is a fictional anthropomorphic cat. The series of twelve children's books based on the character was published between 1939 and 1972. The first eleven books were illustrated by Lucie Lundberg. The books about Pelle are considered a protest against the overt support seen for national socialism in Sweden during the 1930s, and as such constitute a satire on contemporaneous society. The books have been translated to several European languages.

The stories take place in Uppsala. Pelle is a kindhearted and gullible cat who is constantly being tricked and bullied by Elaka Måns (Nasty Måns) and his helpers Bill and Bull. However, good always prevails over evil, and Pelle even gets to experience true love together with Maja Gräddnos (Maya Cream-nose). In the first books Pelle is a house cat in the home of children Olle and Birgitta, but as he grows he enters a relationship with cohabitant Maja in a basement peep-hole.


Gösta Knutsson (1908-1973) was a Swedish radio producer as well as a writer. Knutsson has said that the tailless cat was based on a real cat he himself knew for a summer in his childhood, but also that the cat was his own alter ego. Maja Gräddnos is supposedly based on his wife, Erna. Måns is generically evil with elements fetched from Hitler and Mussolini. The other cats were all caricatures of people among Knutsson's own circle of friends and acquaintances in Uppsala.