Literary icon Henning Mankell dies at 67


The legendary creator of Wallander loses his fight with cancer, leaving behind a majestic legacy of Nordic Noir

Family, friends and fans will be mourning today as it has been announced that the beloved, internationally best-selling author and playwright Henning Mankell passed away in his sleep in Göteborg. After winning the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award at the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy in 1991 for the first Wallander novel, Faceless Killers, Mankell proved to be a talented driving force in the popular crime fiction genre from Scandinavia.


Born in 1948, Henning Mankell lived his life to the fullest and pursued his passions and beliefs, even outside of the bound tomes that boast his name. Mankell’s political ideologies encouraged him to act and endeavour to make a difference by embarking on an active approach to bettering the world. His left-wing views drew him to participate protesting the global conflicts impeding civil rights, during the protests of 1968 held in Sweden. He also took a stand against Apartheid in South Africa and the Vietnam War. Mankell’s presence on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010 notably resulted in his deportation by the Israeli government. This did not stop his unfaltering opinions or desire to make a difference in any way.


As well as being involved in charitable work, Mankell helped to shape the creative opportunities for burgeoning talent in Africa, after becoming the artistic director of Teatro Avenida (Avenida Theatre). This saw Mankell living between Sweden and Maputo, Mozambique for the remainder of his life whilst establishing his own publishing outfit Leopard Förlag. In 2014, the detrimental news that he was suffering from terminal cancer came as a debilitating shock. The BBC shared his reaction from an American radio interview with NPR: “It was a catastrophe for me. Everything that was normal to me up to that point was gone all of a sudden. No one had died of cancer in my family. I had always assumed I’d die of something else.”


Henning Mankell’s outstanding legacy as a brilliant writer includes over forty plays, a collection of children’s books and screenplays for feature-films mini-series. His artistic success can also be seen in on an international scale with the UK adaptation of Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh (2008- ), to compliment both Rolf Lassgård and Krister Henriksson playing Kurt Wallander on Swedish television. Sadly, Mankell’s desire for a trilogy centring round Linda Wallander was quashed in the wake of the Swedish actress Johanna Sällström’s tragic suicide, which left him devastated.

The project Henning Mankell was working on leading up to his death was an insight into renowned director Ingmar Bergman’s life. Mankell is survived by his wife Eva Bergman; daughter of Ingmar Bergman and his son Jon Mankell.

Henning Mankell’s memory will live on and he will forever be remembered for his zeal for life and his ability to captivate an audience with his signature style of the written word.