Readers of this blog are well aware of the tragedy that has befallen Eva Gabrielsson, the life partner of Stieg Larsson, who has been denied any right to his literary or financial estate. Under Swedish inheritance law, common-law partners cannot claim an inherent interest in the estate of one partner who pre-deceases the other, unless a written will specifies such an interest. In Larsson’s case, dying prematurely at age 50 without a valid will, his surviving blood relatives (his father and brother) have been granted control of his estate and have, according to Eva Gabrielsson, refused to share a meaningful role with her. This story is sadly well-known and has played out over the last eight years since Larsson’s death without any fundamental change. It is described in detail in our book The Tattooed Girl, as well as in Eva’s own book, “There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me.
Here’s an interesting bit of literary trivia: Samuel Beckett, the writer of such existentialist works as Waiting for Godot, also had to deal with a similar issue. Beckett, perhaps even less of the “marrying kind” than Stieg Larsson, formally married one of his several lovers, Suzanne Déchevaux-Dumesnil, in 1961—among other reasons, to make sure that if he died before her Déchevaux-Dumesnil would inherit the rights to his work, since there was no common-law marriage under French law.
The story of Beckett and Déchevaux-Dumesnil is a fascinating one. Many of Beckett’s published letters describe details of their relationship. For the short course, follow this link to a Wikipedia entry with more onBeckett and Déchevaux-Dumesnil: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzanne_Dechevaux-Dumesnil