Gösta Mittag-Leffler’s mathematical library and his other collections
Mittag-Lefflers samlingar och biblliotek

Here I plan to put online an excerpt from my book about the history of Gösta Mittag-Leffler’s library, printed in 2019 (Link to swedish catalogue). I published the book myself, with permission from the Institute Mittag-Leffler, which owns this library. The edition consists of only 42 numbered copies as well as 18 copies for libraries and institutions in Sweden and abroad. The book is accepted at six largest university libraries in Sweden, at Bernadottebiblioteket in the Royal Palace, at national libraries in neighboring countries and also at the Library of Congress in Washington and British Library in London.

The book is written in Swedish and is mainly about how M-L founded his library, where he bought his books, about his other collections, relationships with sellers and donors, his employees, the library's rules and maintenance, and about Mittag-Leffler’s preferences in non-fiction and fiction literature. I have also a lot of material that did not fit in the book, and it may also end up here sooner or later.

To start with, I want to show several illustrations, which were not included in the book.

A copy of Gösta M-L’s first book ”Drummelpelle, eller lustiga berättelser och roliga bilder” (”Pretty stories and funny pictures”) by H. Hoffman: ”Värre dock, än Drummelpelle, Thure var, en elak sälle ... ”
It is a translation of a German book, ”Der Struwwelpeter”, first published in 1845, which quickly won popularity in many countries, despite (or because of) the verses being rather cruel than "pretty". The book is kept in Gösta Mittag-Leffler’s archive in the National Library of Sweden.

Invitation to the Publicistklubben’s meeting with dinner. Kept in the National Library of Sweden among other Mittag-Leffler's paper.

Some innovations on the Internet, like auto-prompts for answering a mail (“Thank you, that is interesting,” “I will answer later”, etc.) were practiced long before our tid. Here is a card of the famous Swedish book and second-hand bookstore 120 years ago. When answering a client they used a printed template where they created the response letter by underlining phrases relevant for the specific answer. In this case M-L aimed to buy poems of the Danish author Valdemar Rørdam, and booksellers Fritzes chose to answer: Not in stock -- ordered -- we will receive it in 5 days and then we will send it to you.

There are many other options at the card: Completely sold out, It has not yet been released, A new edition is expected in ___ weeks ___ months, It is not known when it will be released. Do we need to look for a book from used books? It didn’t go out in ____ language, I don’t know, We can’t find it, Please specify the name of the author - publisher - year, The price increased to ___, Tell me if you still want to purchase it, It was sent ___ (date) as a ___ (type) postal item, Price for unbound ___, and so on.

Balconies at the Institute Mittag-Leffler, 2012

One of the rooms at the Institute Mittag-Leffler, 2012

My copy of Arild Stubhaug’s biography of Gösta Mittag-Leffler ”Att våga sitt tärningskast” (”A man of Conviction” in English edition).
On the cover: Gösta Mittag-Leffler’s portrait, drawing by Albert Engström.

/Tatiana Lindener/


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