Jakob Björn Wegelius was born in 1966 in Goteborg, Sweden. After studying literature and philosophy, he attended Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm from 1992 to 1996.
Wegelius published his first children’s book, »Spionerna i Oreborg« (tr. »The spies of Oreborg«, 2003), an »audacious and comical story« (»Frankfurter Rundschau«) that can easily hold its own with the adventures of private detective Tam Sventon, the main character in one of Sweden’s most well-known children’s book series. »Spionerna i Oreborg« tells of a mysterious stranger with flowers in his hat. When by sheer lack of guile he discovers a mysterious nautical chart everyone has been looking for he has to make a quick escape. Wegelius’ illustrations for »Esperanza« (1999) clearly establish him as an accomplished illustrator as well as a gifted writer and graphic designer. »Esperanza« is about an acrobat, who when his friend the captain fails to meet him one evening, as he has done so many times before, starts to wonder whether his friend has finally decided to follow his dreams by sailing to warmer climes, possibly on his ship, the Esperanza, and without his friend Halidon. On his quest to find the captain, the acrobat comes across a little dog with bow legs, who starts to follow him everywhere. At the end of the story, they find the captain, and the little dog is given the name »Esperanza«. A review in the »Zeit« concluded that the novella conveys the »same thirst for adventure and dread of looming misadventure« as »real adventure stories«, even though the characters only end up searching for an adventure without actually having one. Here, the author combines the pathos of Romantic friendship with the urban loneliness of expressionism and oppressive isolation, as expressed by Gerhart Hauptmann’s figures, creating a world where happiness is hard to come by, but solace is freely offered. »Esperanza« was nominated for the Swedish August Prize in 1999, the children’s book award Expressens Heffaklumpen in 2000, and the Luchs des Monats April (a monthly prize) for the German translation in 2002. Wegelius’ »Legenden om Sally Jones« (2008; tr. »The legends of Sally Jones«, 2017) won another Luchs des Monats in July 2009, as well as the August Prize in the category of children’s and young adult literature. The accomplished interplay of text and full-page illustrations in the »The Murderer’s Ape«, the story of a young female gorilla, Sally Jones, abducted from the Belgian Congo around 1900, who has the craziest adventures as she travels the world, strongly impressed the »Zeit«, who also noted that the numerous cross-media references could also interest adults. For his most recent work, »Mördarens apa« (2014; Eng. »The Murderer’s Ape«, 2017), Wegelius was awarded another August Prize.
He lives in Stockholm.