August Strindberg (1849-1912) is best known outside Sweden as a dramatist, but he was also a prolific writer of novels, short stories, essays, journalism and poetry – as well as a notable artist and photographer. Although he spent many years abroad, Strindberg was born, grew up and died in Stockholm and The Red Room is perhaps the quintessential Stockholm novel. A satire of the rapidly changing society of the 1870s, it was Strindberg’s first novel and marked his literary breakthrough: it offers, he said, ‘a panorama of a society I don’t love and which has never loved me’. It contains some of the great set-piece scenes in Swedish literature, a gallery of unforgettable caricatures in the spirit of Dickens, humour, pathos and satirical targets as apt now as they were then. The Red Room is often called Sweden’s first modern novel, and it remains modern almost a century and a half later.