August Strindberg (1849–1912) is Sweden's greatest essayist and playwright, as well as one of its greatest novelists and poets. The 1881 première of Master Olof established him as Swedish theatre's great hope, and The Father, Miss Julie and Creditors, written six, seven and eight years later fulfilled that hope, though not without some delay; the first draft of Master Olof was submitted to the Royal Theatre nine years earlier and Miss Julie made its breakthrough at André Antoine's Théâtre Libre in Paris, having been banned by the censors throughout Scandinavia. Max Reinhardt was his great advocate in the German-speaking world. Georg Brandes Madame Blavatsky, and philosophers Emanuel Swedenborg, Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren Kierkegaard were influential in his thinking and on his writing.

His second play produced at the Royal Theatre, The Outlaw (1871) brought him an audience with King Charles XV, who granted him 200 riksdaler toward his studies and subsequently appointed to a post at the Royal Libaray. His first wife, Siri von Essen, was married to a count when they met; she auditioned for the Royal Theatre shortly after and was engaged so to both "Dramaten" and to Strindberg.

His 1879 novel The Red Room was a satire on Stockholm society — and an enormous success in Denmark. The next year Siri starred in his third play for Dramaten, The Secret of the Guild, and in 1881 Master Olaf (which he had been rewriting for nearly a decade) was his breakthrough in theatre and at that theater and a success with the critics, his 1883 Lucky Peter's Journey a success with the public.

Strindberg's 1884 short-story collection Getting Married resulted in his trial for blasphemy in Sweden (he retunred from abroad and was acquitted.) He, Siri and their children resumed an expatriate life. Émile Zola's naturalism was his next great influence.