Winner of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen medal and the creator of one of children's literature's most enduring and endearing characters, writer Astrid Lindgren's numerous fanciful tales have engrained themselves into Swedish culture since the prolific author made her debut with Britt-Mari Opens Her Heart in 1944.Born in Vimmerby, Sweden, and raised in nearby Småland, Lindgren's early pregnancy and refusal to marry the father of her child was only an early glimmer of the strong-willed girl's determined independence. Raised in foster homes until Lindgren's later marriage allowed her possession of her son, it was the young mother's daughter who would later inspire the undying tales of a spry and unruly lass with the curious name of Pippi Longstocking. Spinning tales of the spirited youngster for the entertainment of her children, Lindgren never thought of printing Pippi's remarkable creative tales until incapacitated with a twisted ankle. Initially rejected by publishers, the tales of Pippi Longstocking were put to print the year after Lindgren's literary debut. Eventually spawning an estimated 40 film and television adaptations and selling nearly 130 million copies translated into dozens of languages, Lindgren's other creations included Master Detective Blomkvist and the fictional children fantasy land Noisy Village (inspired by Lindgren's own childhood in the Swedish countryside). An integral figure in Swedish culture whose soothing voice was welcomed into the homes of countless fans, the author was also a staunch defender of animal and children's rights and founded Astrid Lindgren's Children's Hospital -- one of the largest children's hospitals in northern Europe -- in 1998. Additionally, a theme park based on her works opened in her hometown in 1989 and attracts an average of 300,000 annual visitors. Ever an outspoken activist, Lindgren successfully changed Sweden's harsh tax laws after she received a tax bill that exceeded her income in 1976. Through lobbying and publication of her biting satire Pomperipossa in the World of Money, Lindgren's voice was so powerful that the government had no choice but to revise their tax system. On January 28, 2002, Astrid Lindgren died peacefully in her sleep in the modest Stockholm apartment she resided in since 1941. She was 94.