Re-blogged from Scandalous Women
“Life is a cruel banquet. You pay for food and board with your blood,” Frida Uhl Strindberg.
I was tweeting while watching the first episode of the new series Mr. Selfridge on PBS a few weeks, when Evangeline Holland from Edwardian Promenade mentioned that the character of Delphine Day might have been inspired by Frida Strindberg who opened the Cave of the Golden Calf in London in 1912. I immediately looked Frida up on Wikipedia to see if she was one of the playwright August Strindberg’s wives. Bingo! So of course I went on a research binge to find out more about her. In the end, while I admired her courage and her intelligence, she must have been an incredibly difficult woman.
Her biographer, Monica Strauss, points out that Frida was ill-equipped for the life that she pursued. Higher education was not an option for her. While her father had set her up in a career in journalism, it was never meant to be a career. It was just a temporary measure until she eventually married and had children. He never realized that, in a sense, he’d opened Pandora ’s Box. Having tasted freedom and independence, Frida was reluctant to give it up. When Frida pursued the same sexual freedom as a man, she was condemned for it.
Frida Strindberg was born Frida Uhl on April 4th in 1872. Her father, Friedrich Uhl, was the editor and drama critic of the Wiener Zeitung, one of the oldest, still published newspapers in the world, at the time it was the official government newspaper in Austria. Her father championed progressive ideas and writers, but not in his daughters. He expected them to live conventional, middle class lives, with no scandal. Frida came from a broken home. Her parents had an arranged marriage which broke up discretely when she was 7. Her parents marriage had been an attempt to gloss over some of the more unsavory elements of their backgrounds. Although she converted when she got married, Friedrich’s mother was born Jewish. Frida’s mother Maria had been born illegitimate.
After the separation her mother moved back to the country, while her father lived in his office at his newspaper. While her older sister was off at convent school, Frida spent two years living alone with a governess in Mondsee outside Vienna. Left to her devices, she spent hours in the library, devouring books, developing a mind of her own. She saw very little of either of her parents during her childhood. After leaving school, Friedrich arranged for her to have a job reviewing books and theatre in Munich. Although Frida lived with a family friend, she had been given a taste of freedom. Although it probably wasn’t in his plans, her father gave Frida a great gift, the ability to fend for herself. This knowledge made her stubborn, it gave her confidence, and it made her life difficult. Soon Frida was off to Berlin in pursuit of the married playwright her father had introduced to her the previous summer. It was the beginning of her life long obsession with difficult geniuses. Starved of affection by both parents, Frida would often find herself attracted to older men.
It was in Berlin, that she met Strindberg. The playwright…
Read more: Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of Frida Strindberg.