The author Anna Myrberg / Black Mask
-humorist, but also a serious poet
Behind the pseudonym ‘Black Mask’ we find the author Anna Fredrika Myrberg (1878–1931). Together with her mother she moved from Värmland in western Sweden to Stockholm to find employment after her father died. She trained to be a photo-engraver. She found work both at a photographer’s studio and at a Stockholm newspaper. Through her writing she came to be one of the city’s best-known personalities. Sometimes she read her texts to small audiences and apparently left them writhing with laughter.
It isn’t easy to find out what Anna Myrberg was like as a person. Some sources describe her as lonesome and unhappy, while others say she was happy, strong, and independent. However, it does appear that she was a rather serious person despite her humorous texts. She had a hunchback and “dragged one leg behind her when she walked.” “Look—there’s the Black Mask!” children would shout when they saw her. Sometimes she had to write standing up because her back hurt so much, and that would not exactly make life easier, of course.
Myrberg shows her serious sides in a collection of poems filled with smallness and fragility. For instance, the poem “The Doll” contains these lines:
As a child, I remember I had
My mother sat and watched me play,
O, mother, the doll you owned,
And her limbs have been twisted,
For her, your hair has turned gray,
Lena Perssons förord i Svarta Maskens Dårdikter: samt humoresker och slagdängor i urval (Stockholm, 1984)