Who was Mrs. Dimander?
Lotten’s letter to Augusta, Stockholm, 16 March 1846
“My own Augusta!
Although you’ve had me wait for a letter for such an unbelievably long time, I have still written to you right away because there is nothing as pleasurable as getting a letter from one’s friends. I do not know what kind of fun those people have who do not correspond with anyone. It is at least my greatest pleasure, although sometimes it is also my greatest dread – for example, writing New Year’s letters and thank-you notes. But writing to a friend is of course always my dearest avocation.
Thank you for the greetings from Lieutenant Brandt, it is always nice to hear about people who remember us. I also remember him very well. I think I have heard that he got married. Maybe it is someone else with the same name?
Let’s see if what I am about to tell you is news to you: that Jaquette Rütterskjöld is engaged to Lieutenant Theodor Wijkander. You may already have heard that, because rumors travel far. I have not known it until last Sunday. Do you remember at school, Jaquette was always so afraid that she would remain unmarried, but she nevertheless believed it and always said that “La paicible fille” would be her comfort in old age. They will marry next spring and then move to Wermland, something Mrs. Dimander will work against with both hands and feet. But it will most likely happen anyway.”
Who was Mrs. Dimander?
Wasn’t it Mrs. Dimander who also arranged a sleigh ride that Lotten wrote about in her previous letter? Who was she? I assume she would have been of mature age (30-50?), wealthy, independent, social, and not having kids of her own to take care of.
Googling Mrs. Dimander (Swedish: Fru Dimander) results in two different persons.
- Anna Maria Dimander, the wife of the archbishop Johan Olof Wallin who had started a famous girls’ school in Stockholm – Wallinska Skolan. Anna Maria Dimander came from a wealthy tobacco-manufacturing family. Would the wife of an archbishop arrange fancy sleigh rides? And would she oppose Jaquette leaving Stockholm – unless she was a teacher and liked her students?
- Maria Dimander, born Nordström, was married into the same tobacco-manufacturing family. She became famous for her comical use of French. She died in 1822, so this could not be Lotten’s Mrs. Dimander.
As part of understanding social life in Stockholm during the mid-1800s, I am concurrently reading three diaries (listed in references below). Would Mrs. Dimander be mentioned in any of them?
There is a Mrs. Dimander in Marie-Louise Forsell’s diary. Marie-Louise (1823-1852) kept diaries between 1842 and 1852 which were published in the early 1900s. The family was well-connected in Stockholm. So what did she write about a Mrs. Dimander?
The first entry, on 28 March 1843, describes a gathering that the Forsell family is planning in their home. It is going to be a huge, exquisite, superfluous, and costly party and they are going to invite 80 people. There is going to be dancing and they have hired Mr. W for the evening (that must have been important, whoever he was 🙂 ). Unfortunately, they decide that the invitations should not go out until 4 days before the party. At that time, they find out that Mrs. Dimander has already invited most of the same people to her party, planned for the same day – a party for 100 people! Marie-Louise writes: “I, who never envied those who visited the funny old lady Tant Netta’s balls – who would ever believe that she would now, thereby, get us into this predicament.
So Mrs. Dimander’s nickname was Tant Netta.
But it gets more interesting. On 10 September 1847 (one year after Lotten’s letter about Mrs. Dimander), Marie-Louise and some of her family members are out to pay a visit to some friend in Stockholm. On their way, they recognize Tant Netta’s carriage and riding in it is also Adelaide Rütterskjöld.
Would that be a relative of Jaquette Rütterskjöld who Lotten wrote about?
Now Marie-Louise and her family get invited to visit the Dimanders at Djurgården the same evening. It turns out to be a small dinner party consisting of the families Nyman, Wijkander (would that be Jaquette’s fiance?), Eld, Göthe, Wirrman, Liljewalchs, Strömberg, and Rütterskjöld, in addition to the famous portrait artist, Maria Röhl. The men play cards and the women converse. Mrs. Dimander surprises them with a dinner consisting of crayfish omelet, milk, calf brisket, apples, and pastries. Marie-Louise is very happy with the evening and with Tant Netta; she only regrets that she forgot to say goodbye to the nice old Mr. Dimander.
Mrs. Dimander is Anna Helena Dimander, born Nyman
Googling combinations of names at the party reveal the identity of Mrs. Dimander. And the census records of Stockholm confirms the family relationships.
Petter Dimander Frisson (1746-1789) was a tobacco manufacturer and Member of Parliament. His wife was Mrs. Maria Dimander (born Nordström) – the Mrs. Dimander who was famous for her comical French. They had 5 children:
- Anders (1778-1857) was married to Anna Helena Nyman (1790-1876). This turned out to be Mrs. Dimander in Lotten’s letters and Tant Netta in Marie-Louise Forsell’s diary. The couple had no children but were very wealthy. They owned a large house on Regeringsgatan 71 where they lived. They also had affluent renters.
- Anna Maria (1781-1866). This was the Mrs. Dimander who was married to Archbishop Johan Olof Wallin. They had no children.
- Elisabet Christina
- Hedvig Magdalena
So what about Augusta’s and Lotten’s school friend, Jaquette Rütterskjöld? The girl who got engaged and would leave Stockholm when she got married. It turns out that Mrs. Dimander was Jaquette’s maternal aunt. That is why Mrs. Dimander didn’t want her to leave Stockholm!
Mrs. Dimander had a sister, Ulrica Sophia Nyman, who married a Rütterskjöld. According to census records, she and her 5 children were taken care of by the Dimanders – living in a house owned by Mr. Dimander. Their children were:
- Sophia Lovisa (1823-1891)
- Charlotta Adelaide (1825-1886). When Marie-Louise Forsell died in childbirth in 1852, Adelaide married Marie-Louise Forsell’s husband, Berndt Nycander.
- John Evert Israel (1827-1899)
- Augusta Mariana (1828-1898)
- Jacquette Wilhelmina (1826-1909) married Theodor Wijkander (1821-1885). And despite Mrs. Dimander’s probable objections, the couple did move to Wermland after their wedding.
I am sure I will run into Mrs. Dimander in more letters from Lotten to Augusta. One question remains though, which school did Jacquette attend – Mrs. Edgren’s or Mademoiselle Frigell’s school?
Östman, Margareta. 2015. Systrarna Ulrichs dagböcker – från Stockholms slott, Djurgården och landsorten 1830-1855. Stockholm: Carlssons. (Translation of title: The Ulrich Sisters’ Diaries – from Stockholm’s Palace, Djurgården, and the Countryside 1830-1855).
Liljewall, Britt. 2017. Vackra Dagboken – Carl Henric Robsahms anteckningar från 1830-talet. Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholmia. (Translation of title: The Beautiful Diary – Carl Henric Robsahm’s Notes from the 1830s).
Heijkenskjöld, Syster, ed. 1915. Sällskapslif och hemlif i Stockholm på 1840-talet: ur Marie-Louise Forsells dagboksanteckningar. Stockholm: Bonnier. (Translation of title: Social Life and Home Life in Stockholm in the 1840s: From Marie-Louise Forsell’s Diary Notes).