Stieg Larsson is known as the author of the Millenium Saga: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who played with Fire, and The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest. He was born Karl Stig-Erland Larsson, nicknamed Stig, in Sweden, in 1954. He changed the autograph of his name to Stieg, so as to avoid confusion with his friend and fellow author, Stig Larsson. The pronunciation remained the same.
Larsson grew up the first nine years of his life with his grandparents in the northern countryside of Sweden for reasons that vary among biographies. He stayed there until the death of his grandfather, and returned to his parents who lived in Stockholm.
According to Kurdo Baski, a fellow journalist and friend of Larsson's, Stieg witnessed the gang rape of a girl he knew when he was fifteen at a summer camp. According to his recollection of Stieg recounting the memory: "On that day, 15-year-old Stieg watched three friends rape a girl, also called Lisbeth, who was the same age as him and someone he knew. Her screams were heartrending, but he didn't intervene. His loyalty to his friends was too strong. He was too young, too insecure. It was inevitable that he would realise afterwards that he could have acted and possibly prevented the rape." The victim nor the rapers were ever found, and the story was never proven. Regardless, it could explain Larsson's hatred for abuse against women, sexism and his active career as a feminist, just like his grandfather, who was locked in a camp during WW2 for anti-Nazi views, was most probably the origin of his affront to right-wing extremism, neo-nazism and racism.
Larsson had many trades, and never considered himself a novelist, only writing in the evenings to relax himself. He was, however, at one point or another, a journalist, researcher, activist, magazine editor, graphic designer, photographer, as well as minor roles such as dishwasher to scrap some cash while backpack travelling in Africa.
Larsson's foundation of an anti right-wing magazine led him to have many enemies, and he and his soulmate (for lack of a better word) often received death threats, both to themselves and to people close to them. Larsson met and subsequently fell in love with Eva Gabrielsson when they were both eighteen. They never married as Larsson feared a paper trail connecting her to him would place her in danger in regards to the threats they received, such as bullets in the mail, or even rocks through windows.
Larsson had begun writing a novel, laced with themes of abuse towards women, rape, sexism and other things Larsson stood against. The heroine of the book is presumably named Lisbeth Salander after the victim of the gang rape Larsson witnessed. Larsson waited until the saga and three novels were completely finished before thinking of publishing. Before any publishing deals could be made however, he died of a heart attack, at the age of 50, on the 9th of December 2004, in Stockholm.
Although Larsson had been adamant on keeping his original title for the first book as it was: Män som hatar kvinnor, literally Men who hate women. When the book was published posthumously, however, the English translation changed the title to a less provocative phrase. Changing the title did not change in any way the 'men who hate women' message in the books. Of the three, only the second, when translated into English, kept the same literal translation. The third, Luftslottet som sprängdes, literally, The air castle that blew up, was changed to The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest, presumably to keep 'The Girl...' pattern. The novels became international bestsellers, and spawned a Swedish movie saga, originally a mini-series, and an American remake (oh, Hollywood...).
As Larsson had no written will, his belongings passed to his family, notably his father (mother died of breast cancer in 1991), and Eva continues to fight to this day to at least have the rights to the novels, in order to be able to decide what should be done with the fragments of unfinished novels Larsson left behind. The family continues to refuse to give anything to Eva, who legally, as she was not married, has no right to anything, regardless of the fact that 30-something of their years were passed together.