It is a common saying that Sven Hedin was the “most well-known Swede of his time”. That may very well have been the case. Undeniably he did almost daily in one or the other context, turn up in newspapers the world around, and if he was in town it was surely known there. A visit by him never went unnoticed. He wrote reports from the field himself and media kept track of his doings. On his return from expeditions the receptions were turned into popular as well as official events. On tour he was received as a public figure, and it could even happen that students carried him on their shoulders.
He combined fame from being an explorer, manly exploits in dangerous places built reputation, with the more complex and later in life disputed fame caused by exposure to political lime-light. He was evidently a good orator. Lecturing tours in Sweden and on the continent attracted huge crowds. As a celebrity, with a truly astonishing network of personal contacts, but evidently also as genuinely convivial person and good friend, he spent many a night at dinners and banquets. He was most often expected to escort the hostess to the table and it was known that he afterwards could both elegantly and wittily thank for the dinner.
His career as a political agitator and speaker before the First World War met with quite some success, but also resulted in him being a repeated target for criticism and ridicule by his opponents. Before and during the Second World War he was still a public figure to reckon with, and his views were often asked for or publicly voiced by himself. In pace with German decline, defeat and exposure his views became more and more inappropriate and he slowly, though far from entirely slipped into the shadow.