Climbing the class ladder with books in tow

At some point in my political journey of discovery, I came across the phrase “the working class hunger for education.” It was not just in the Social Democrats’ party platform pamphlets but also in their actions. I found the clearest expression of this conviction that there was a hunger at ABF, the Swedish Workers’ Educational Association, but also in efforts like the funding for municipal and school libraries; the cultural magazine Folket i Bild; the publishing company Tidens förlag, which was linked to the workers’ movement; folk high schools (especially Brunnsvik) and of course the cultural policies of Social Democratic governments – including payment to authors for library loans and the low-price quality books available through En Bok för Alla [‘A book for everyone’] (as well as, much later, the VAT cut).

The hunger for books that people sought to satisfy thus mainly involved the education available in boo...

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