Tove Jansson’s Life of Wonders

A Path of Creativity

Tove Jansson, the multi-faceted Finnish artist, was born in the summer of 1914 in Helsinki, then part of the Russian Empire. Raised in a creative environment (her mother was an illustrator and graphic designer and her father was a sculptor) she was encouraged to be an artist from an early age. Trained in fine arts in Stockholm, Helsinki, and Paris, she led a successful and prolific career in illustration, painting, and writing.

Jansson’s most famous and beloved creation, the Moomin series, came out during the 1940s as an escape from the terrors of WWII. It incorporated all the themes she explored throughout her life, such as home, family, care, and freedom. 

Another important aspect of her work is the presence of nature. Jansson grew up close to birch forests and stone beaches and spent many summers of adulthood on the isolated island of Klovharun together with her partner, artist Tuulikki Pietilä. Nature is therefore felt both as background for the stories and illustrations as well as more subjectively in how the characters behave.

Moomins and the Valley

The Moomins are undoubtedly the most well-known of Tove Jansson’s creations. These warm stories of a troll family, illustrated in simple ink, and their adventures in the Moomin Valley have been an essential part of the Finnish culture since the 1940s. The Moomins and the Great Flood inaugurated the saga in 1945 and the last book of the series was released in 1970. During this period the stories reached a massive audience and were translated into more than 60 languages. 

In addition to the books, The Moomins was published as a comic strip in the London newspaper The Evening News for almost 30 years. Today a complete collection of these witty and wise strips is reunited in a beautiful book, also published in various languages. 

Because of its huge success, The Moomins became an animated series, a play, a musical, and toys. There is even a Moomin amusement park in Finland!

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