Greta Garbo

4 Scandi Trailblazers Who Changed the World

In 1925 a Swedish actress arrived in Hollywood. She spoke no English, but soon made her name in silent movies. Five years later, with a better command of the language, Greta Garbo made her first talkie – ‘Garbo Talks!’ screamed the headlines.

Nicknamed ‘The Divine’, Garbo became one of the major stars of classic Hollywood. She was a new kind of actor, with greater subtlety and naturalism – “She doesn’t act – she lives her roles”, one critic stated.

“I want to be alone”

But at the age of thirty-five, Greta Garbo retired – “I want to be alone” was her motto. Her obsessive avoidance of the press only made them keener to interview her and for the rest of her life, she was hunted by the media.

Garbo also introduced new fashion trends, had lesbian affairs, collected amazing art, and built up an aura of mystique and allure that has never faded.

Discover more about the life and roles of the woman whom the Guinness Book of Records once designated “the most beautiful woman who ever lived”.

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your Trailblazers series.

As a lifelong Francophone and Francophile, it was so interesting to get the whole story as it were, about your subjects. In each of your presentations, I learned a great deal that I didn’t know, and your information was spot on. 

So I thank you so much for the opportunity to listen and learn.

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed watching your four French Trailblazers lectures. It was a wonderful treat for me to sit back on a Monday early evening, to listen, watch and learn from you.
Thank you so much for the marvellous French Series. I have savoured every word. You really kept our minds in high spirits just when needed. 
Looking forward to your future events. Your range of interests and enthusiasm is inspiring. 
Stay safe, well and curious!

Thank you for your most interesting and informative talk about Victor Hugo. It has stimulated me to get to the library and borrow one of his novels when I can of course. 


I loved the lecture, it was so wonderful to be back. I have resisted zoom as I felt I spent too much time on screens. However, being back listening to Susannah’s fantastic lectures was marvellous. I can’t wait until next Monday. 


We simply loved last night’s talk, we were listening intently and making notes of new places to visit once “it’s all over.” 

Geraldine and Richard

Your talk on Victor Hugo was – as expected – brilliant. Yes, his house on Guernsey is extraordinary (I was there in 2015).


I enjoyed your talk on Victor Hugo very much, especially as I have been to his house in Place des Vosges, which I found remarkable. I had booked a trip to visit the house in the Channel Islands but Covid intervened.


Thank you very much for your Zoom meeting on Victor Hugo yesterday. As is always the case, your presentation was excellent and I much enjoyed being enlightened further on his works and his life.

I look forward to next week’s lecture on Paul Cezanne.


You make your authors and their story come to life for me. I am so appreciative! I’ve watched your videos from RACV, Tea with a Book Addict and now your new series. As I live in Melbourne with so many restrictions, you have been the face I have seen most frequently, I count myself very lucky!


Thank you so much for the delightful talk on Victor Hugo yesterday. It was packed with so many interesting facts and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. 


Thank you for your wonderful talk yesterday. My friend Jan who watched with me said “now I know why you go on those trips”.

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Discuss it with me

How many of Garbo’s movies have you seen? Were you aware of her art collection? What do you think of her life and achievements? Let’s discuss it here.

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I only recommend books I have read or know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.

Comments (2)

  1. Margaret Debenham

    Susannah, thank you so much for the Scandi Trailblazers – so thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. And today’s Greta Garbo was such a delight – to see those beautiful photos and be reminded of those (mainly) fabulous movies, and her wonderful performances. And so many memorable moments and scenes – her first words in Anna Christie, of course, in that marvellous voice; her final scene in Anna Karenina when an almost imperceptible change in her expression shows her irrevocable decision to throw herself under the train; her face as she stands in the prow of the ship taking Christina from Sweden with the body of her lover, when she was supposedly told by the director to think of nothing and yet her face conveys everything; and the marvellous moment in Ninotchka when one of her fellow envoys asks her if she wants to be alone, and she responds with a definite “No!” (I don’t think this was in the original script). There are many many more. I would definitely place her number 1 in the poll you mentioned. I have the beautifully produced catalogue from Sotheby’s sale of her apartment contents – I did make a bid for one of the books, but of course it went for about 50 times the amount I submitted!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Oh how fabulous that you tried to get one of her books in the auction! And what a pity you didn’t, but I believe everything just zoomed in price because it had belonged to her. You described so many fabulous screen moments – she could just convey so much with a tiny gesture or raised eyebrow, and when she could speak on films, just got even better.
      I am so glad you have enjoyed the Scandi series – more to come next year.

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