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She was born in Gothenburg, Sweden. In 1932, after the breakup of her marriage, she had a relationship with Gunnel Bergström , the wife of fellow poet Gunnar Ekelöf. She was largely responsible for translating the work of T. S. Eliot into Swedish.
She died in an apparent suicide when swallowing sleeping-tablets after that she had left home on April 23. She was found, according to the police report at the Regional Archives in Gothenburg, on April 27, 1941. She was found at a boulder on a hill with a view just north of Alingsås, near Bolltorpsvägen, by a farmer who was going for a walk. The boulder is now a memorial stone.
Karin Boye is perhaps most famous for her poems, of which the most well-known ought to be "Yes, of course it hurts" (Sw. "Ja visst gör det ont") and "In motion" (Sw. "I rörelse") from her collections of poems "The Hearths" (Sw. "Härdarna"), 1927, and "For the tree's sake" (Sw. "För trädets skull"), 1935. She was also a member of the Swedish literary institution Samfundet De Nio (chair number 6) from 1931 until her death in 1941.
Outside Sweden, her most appreciated work may be the novel Kallocain (also known in some translations as Kallocaïne.
In 2004, one of the branches of the Uppsala University Library was named the Karin Boye Library (Karin Boye-biblioteket) in her honour.
- Abenius, Margit. 1965. Karin Boye. Stockholm, Sweden. Bokförlaget Aldus/Bonniers.
- Hammarström, Camilla. 2001. Karin Boye. Stockholm, Sweden. Bokförlaget Natur och Kultur. ISBN 91-27-08935-5.
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