Mankell was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and grew up in Sveg (Härjedalen) and Borås (Västergötland). Mankell’s father, Ivar, was a judge and his grandfather, also named Henning Mankell (1868–1930), was a composer. At the age of 20 he had already started a career as author and assistant director at the Riksteater in Stockholm. In the following years he collaborated with several theatres in Sweden.
Photo Johnny Leo Johansen(c) Athen 2011
Henning Mankell was on board the MS Sofia, one of the boats which took part in the flotilla which tried to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza strip. Following the Israel Defence Forces‘ boarding of the flotilla on the morning of May 31, 2010, Mankell was deported to Sweden. He subsequently called for global sanctions against Israel.
In his youth Mankell was a left-wing political activist and a strong opponent of the Vietnam War, South African apartheid and Portugal’s colonial war in Mozambique. In the 1970s Mankell moved from Sweden to Norway and lived with a Norwegian woman who was a member of the Maoist Communist Labour Party of Norway. Mankell took part in the party’s activities but did not join the party.
After living in Zambia and other African countries, Mankell was invited to become the artistic director of Teatro Avenida in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He now spends at least half the year in Maputo working with the theatre and writing. Recently he built up his own publishing house (Leopard Förlag) in order to support young talents from Africa and Sweden.