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03 Aug 2011

Claims that Swedish author Stieg Larsson wrote a fourth novel are wide of the mark, his partner has revealed.

The Millennium trilogy writer died before books including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were published.

Eva Gabrielsson told BBC Radio 4's Woman Hour that there was "not much truth" in reports that he left another novel on a laptop.

She said while he had written some new pages, there was not enough to shape another novel.

"There's the beginning of a fourth novel," she explained.

"I would estimate it to be about 200 pages, given what I saw in late August during our last vacation, and given what I knew of Stieg's workload in his last two months."

The trilogy has sold 27m copies, and reports of a potential fourth book in the series had excited fans.

But Gabrielsson said: "It probably doesn't hang together. Stieg was a spontaneous writer, he could write scenes and not knit them together until later on - he just liked the scene. You can't call it a novel."

Larsson died of a heart attack aged 50 in 2004. Despite being together for 30 years, Gabrielsson was not entitled to anything from his estate under Swedish law, as they were not married and there was no valid will.

She has been locked in a legal battle for a number of years with his father and brother, who inherited Larsson's estate.

But she explained why she felt a right to have control over his literacy legacy.

"Lots of the thoughts and ideas that went into Millennium weren't Stieg's but were mine. So I do have a grip on what's in there," she said.

"Some things are purely mine in that book, some things are his and some things are ideas and things we developed together.

"The descriptions of Stockholm, the locations, that's taken straight from a manuscript I was working on."

She said there were many more examples, but that was one she could substantiate in writing.

"There is a lot you can't really say. Because we have been together so long and were active in so many things together you have this grey zone, things that are joint you don't really know who came up with the idea first."

Gabrielsson was offered a settlement of £2m in 2009 and a seat on the board of the company that now controls Larsson's works, but said she could not accept the offer.

"I would be extremely restricted in who I was and wanted to be in the future, including what I could say about Stieg and me in my life."

And she added: "Being a member of a board in a company you have no legal say in, it's like being hired as a consultant. I could be sacked."

She has written a book, called Stieg and Me, about her experiences, but said writing it was not about revenge but moving towards "justice".

She also hoped it would keep the debate on cohabitation laws in Sweden alive, as many other people had been left in the same situation as her.

Gabrielsson said she also wanted to show people what shock could do following the death of a loved one.

"It was that bad, that I even lost the ability to read and calculate," she explained. "It's an instinct I think we have within us to survive that takes over."

One of her fears over Larsson's literary legacy was that the name of his first book changed when it was released outside Sweden, from Men Who Hate Women to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

"He would have objected strongly to that kind of change. Making the theme of the whole three books almost like a child's book - a girl and a tattoo and a dragon.

"The books are very, very serious and really directed against violence against women, that's why he chose that title."

So what would Larsson would have thought of the success of his Millennium books?

"He would have been extremely surprised," his partner said.


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