Larsson witnesses a rape by his friends of a girl named Lisbeth in the late summer of 1969, and the guilt that he feels afterwards will become a major inspiration for creating the Millennium novels and their main character, Lisbeth Salander:
The location was a camping site in Umea, northern Sweden, where he was brought up … On that day, 15-year-old Stieg watched three friends rape a girl, also called Lisbeth, who was the same age as him and someone he knew. Her screams were heartrending, but he didn’t intervene. His loyalty to his friends was too strong. He was too young, too insecure. It was inevitable that he would realise afterwards that he could have acted and possibly prevented the rape.
He later contacts the girl to try to explain his inaction:
Haunted by feelings of guilt, he contacted the girl a few days later. When he begged her to forgive him for his cowardice and passivity, she told him bitterly that she could not accept his explanations. ‘I shall never forgive you,’ she said, gritting her teeth.