- Year created: 1944
- Nationality: Swedish
- Is she weird: Yes
- Similar to: Peter Pan
Pippi Longstocking (Swedish Pippi Långstrump) is a fictional character in a series of children’s books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, and adapted into multiple films and television series. Pippi was named by Lindgren’s then nine-year-old daughter, Karin, who requested a get-well story from her mother one day when she was home sick from school. Nine-year-old Pippi is unconventional, assertive, and has superhuman strength, being able to lift her horse one-handed without difficulty. She frequently mocks and dupes adults she encounters, an attitude likely to appeal to young readers; however, Pippi usually reserves her worst behavior for the most pompous and condescending of adults. Pippi’s anger is reserved for the most extreme cases, such as when a man ill-treats her horse. Like Peter Pan, the Pippi cartoon does not want to grow up. She is the daughter of a buccaneer captain and as such has adventurous stories to tell. She has four best friends, two animals (her horse and a monkey) and two humans, the neighbor’s children Tommy and Annika.
After an initial rejection from Bonnier Publishers in 1944, Lindgren’s manuscript was accepted for publication by the Swedish publisher Rabén and Sjögren. The first three Pippi chapter books were published from 1945 to 1948, with an additional series of six books published in 1969–1975. Two final stories were printed in 1979 and 2000. The books have been translated into 64 languages.
A Quirky Kid
Pippi (‘quirky’ in older swedish slang) claims her full name is Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking. Her fiery red hair is worn in kečkes, or pigtails, that are so tightly wound that they stick out sideways from her head. Pippi lives in a small Swedish village, sharing the house she styles “Villa Villekulla” with her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, and her horse (“Lilla gubben”, “little buddy”, in the books, in adaptations usually referred to as “Old Man” or Alfonzo) but no adults or relatives. The Pippi cartoon befriends the two children living next door: Tommy and Annika Settergren. The three have many adventures. Tommy and Annika’s mother, Mrs. Settergren, often disapproves of Pippi’s manners and lack of education, but eventually comes to appreciate that the Pippi cartoon would never put Tommy and Annika in danger, and that Pippi values her friendship with the pair above almost anything in her life. Pippi’s two main possessions are a suitcase full of gold coins (which she used to buy her horse) and a large chest of drawers containing various small treasures.
Strongest Girl in the World
Pippi is the strongest girl in the world. Pippi’s strength amazes and confounds people, including the children, though they eventually begin to take it in stride. Pippi herself makes no mention of her extraordinary strength, though she is obviously aware of it. She is not at all violent, and when circumstances require her to protect herself or others, she usually takes great care not to hurt anyone. This is seen in the first book, when she neutralizes five large bullies singlehandedly, and also when she engages two policemen (who were determined to take her to an orphanage against her will) in a game of tag. The Pippi cartoon is also seen in the various movies picking up a horse (the books often mention Pippi moving her horse Old Man by carrying him from one place to another), a car, weights/barbells weighing over 1,000 pounds; she also pulls bars out of a jail window and throws pirates across a room.
Pippi and Ghibli
In 1971, Japanese animators Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata had expressed great interest in doing an anime feature adaptation of the Pippi cartoon. The proposed project was titled Pippi Longstocking, The Strongest Girl in the World. They traveled to Sweden, and not only did research for the film (they went location scouting in Visby, one of the major locations where the 1969 TV series was filmed), but also personally visited creator Astrid Lindgren, and discussed the project with her. Unfortunately, after their meeting with Lindgren, their permission to complete the film was denied, and the project was canceled. Among what remains of the project are watercolored storyboards by Miyazaki himself.
Some of this article uses modified material from the Wikipedia article on the Pippi cartoon “Obelix“, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.