Basically, I read Graham Lord’s “Niv” biography on holiday a couple of years ago and ended up more interested in Hjördis’ life than David’s.
Searching the internet for more information revealed a stunning amount of unsympathetic and misogynistic things said about her. I work for a website that provides information and support to pregnant women and young mothers, so (amongst other things) I noticed the lack of sympathy for her many miscarriages… which had a huge effect on her life.
A few “Niv” book reviews on Amazon showed that I wasn’t alone. To quote Mr (or Mrs) ‘A Customer’:
“There are also some serious double standards at work here. His second wife is excoriated for her infidelities while Niven’s are laughed off as a part of his incurable randyness. Long before the end of this book I was firmly on the side of Hjördis, the unfortunate second Mrs Niven, but the author and Niven’s close friends clearly do not believe the old adage that there are two sides to every story.”
As information about Hjördis kept turning up, I began to collect it together and place it in chronological order, purely to satisfy my own curiosity. This in turn presented an opportunity to have a go at writing and building a WordPress website.
Putting the story on a public platform was also done in the hope that people who actually knew Hjördis will feel that they can contribute, to balance the opinions of David’s friends.
David Niven’s biographer Sheridan Morley wrote that David “reinvented himself as a kind of local boy made good” to narrate the “digest of after-dinner stories” in his two best-selling books. No doubting how well it worked! By contrast, Hjördis’ local-girl-made-good story is no author’s device, and I hope it provides a different perspective on her life and the lives of those around her.
Me? Oh. I’m 53 (though look 51 in low lighting conditions, I hope) and live on the south coast of England with my wife and two teenage daughters. I’m not a movie buff, or a journalist, or Swedish, or a relative of either Niven.