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Jansson, Tove (1914 - 2001)

illustrator, painter, writer

Tove Jansson
Literature Archives of the Finnish Literature Society

Tove Jansson has achieved worldwide fame with her Moomin books, which have been translated into more than thirty languages. Moomintroll and his family and friends have also roved the world in comic strips and TV cartoons. Like Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, the familiar figures have been used to decorate clothing and other articles for children. The versatile Jansson has held numerous art exhibitions and has written books for adults as well.

Tove Jansson has long been fêted as a writer of fairy stories and especially as the creator of the unique world of the Moomins. She is the most translated Finnish author: the Moomin books are available in more than thirty languages and have taken their place in the world's fairy-story literature alongside The Little Prince, Winnie the Pooh and the works of Astrid Lindgren. Less attention has been paid to the fact that throughout her career as a writer Jansson has also depicted the world of her own time and has written for adult readers as well. Furthermore, Jansson goes against the conventional image of an artist with her unusually even balance between visual art and writing. A Swedish-speaking Finn, Jansson is a member of a linguistic minority and an artistic family; and the problems of such communities are evident in her work, as are the themes of femaleness and homosexuality.

Tove Jansson's last Moomin book appeared in 1970. By then a dozen or so had accumulated in the form of prose and picture books, as well as fifteen hundred episodes in newspaper comic series. This was probably just the right amount to satisfy the Moomin-needs of child readers. But imaginative young readers also have a tendency to hope that their favourite books will have their equivalents among adult works as well. And Tove Jansson must be one of the few writers in the world who have succeeded in fulfilling this wish.

Always surrounded by creativity

Would Tove Jansson have developed into a visual artist and a writer if she had had a childhood typical of Swedish-speaking Finns of the early 20th century? A working-class or middle-class home - that would hardly have been of crucial importance. In either, the value system, upbringing and ideals of adulthood would have certainly been quite different from those provided by the studio home of Viktor Jansson and Signe Hammarsten-Jansson. Tove never thought of any career other than that of an artist.

The theatre director Vivica Bandler writes in her memoirs that "Tove was brought up to feel sorry for anyone who was not an artist". Thus she did not waste time considering alternatives or engaging in serious rebellion against her parents' value system. In a way, Tove Jansson never learned to be or set about becoming an artist. She was one from childhood onwards. And conversely - the close bond with her parents kept her a child for a long time: she did not leave home until the age of 28.

This intermingling of child and adult roles is one of the most important reasons for the success of the Moomin books. High-quality children's literature that interests its readers does not in general arise from the fact that an adult is writing for children. The writer must first and foremost be capable of talking to herself - of identifying with the child. Tove Jansson has explained her writing in the same terms: "If a writer sets out with the sole intention of writing a children's book, the result will be wretched. Whatever you do, it has to be done because you want to do it, because you are forced to express yourself in exactly that way." Elsewhere she has commented: "I suppose that I wrote mainly for myself; perhaps to regain something of the free, adventurous and secure summers of my childhood. But perhaps I also sometimes wrote for the sort of child who feels pushed aside and timid."

The strong ties to home and parents would probably have stunted the development of someone other than Jansson. But in her case they became the basis for her whole life's work. Perhaps Tove Jansson would have written and painted in quite a different way if she had lived a more rebellious life. And one can see hints of such rebellion throughout her work, which time and again reflects precisely on the problems of forming attachments and breaking free of them.

Tove Jansson's father was a sculptor and her mother an illustrator and drawer. Both her brothers were also artistic. Per Olov (b. 1920) and Lars (b. 1926) had both already made their debuts as writers in the 1940s, and later Lars became a comic-strip artist and Per Olov a photographer.

Writers on Jansson have stressed the role of her home and parents. And in Jansson's writing, too, 'home' is a place of absolutely crucial importance. Inevitably, life in her childhood home alternated between the excitements of art and the compromises of daily life - and this can also be seen as one of the constitutive elements in Jansson's philosophy, which emphasises basic security on the one hand and creative uncertainty and the relativity of everything on the other.

Signe Hammarsten came from a respected Swedish clerical family and was the child of a pastor's daughter and a court chaplain. According to Tove Jansson, Signe's parents were opposed to her becoming an artist. Per Olov Jansson claims that as a girl his mother dreamt of a career as a surgeon. In any case, she was able to start work as a drawing teacher at a Stockholm girls' school. She was already an adult, working woman when she went to Paris on a study trip. There, in 1910, she met a Finnish sculptor four years her junior.

Viktor Jansson was the son of a Helsinki haberdasher. His father died early in his life. His mother kept the shop going, but it did badly, and before his marriage Viktor Jansson had to help her to manage the business. At the same time, being unable to go abroad, he was able to establish his position in the front ranks of the first generation of sculptors trained in Finland.

For Signe, her marriage in 1913 meant leaving her homeland. No doubt it initially also meant a welcome liberation from the conventional roles of daughter and teacher: the newlyweds first lived in Paris for a year. After moving to Finland in 1914, the Janssons settled in a studio flat - familiar to readers of Tove Jansson's book of memoirs Bildhuggarens dotter (English title: Sculptor's Daughter) - in Luotsikatu Street in Helsinki's Katajanokka district. A few months after the move the couple's first child, Tove Marika, was born.

At home, Viktor Jansson was evidently as much a haberdasher as a sculptor. Although he was capable of affection and had an imagination, he was also an autocratic patriarch, as men generally were in late-19th-century families. After the Civil War, there was also much of the freedom fighter in Viktor Jansson. He fought in the White army and was promoted from private to sergeant. After the war he became popular as a designer and sculptor of military monuments; amongst other works, Jansson designed the freedom statues in Lahti and Tampere and the monument at the Sysmä military cemetery.

"Father hated all women except mother and me", Tove Jansson relates. According to the sculptor's daughter, Viktor Jansson regarded women for the most part as "ladies": creatures who could not act as models, talked too much and wore large hats at the cinema. Consequently women were not welcome at the Janssons': there were, for example, never any women guests at artists' parties in the studio. Signe Hammarsten was naturally not a "lady", and other ladies were occasionally saved by immortalisation in Viktor Jansson's statues, which radiated erotic femaleness.

At home the family was ruled absolutely by Viktor's life. When Father and his male artist friends were celebrating in the studio, sometimes for days on end, Mother watched over the asthmatic Per Olov's breathing in the bedroom and stowed the breakfast herring in the larder. Because Father had attended the strict Broberg Coeducational School, the children had to do so, too. And if Father's interest was aroused by a burning building during the night, the whole family had to trudge through the snow to admire it.

Signe Hammarsten-Jansson was naturally given the job of looking after the family - from bottling mushrooms and caring for the children to obtaining money. If she had thought of an artistic career in connection with an exciting marriage, she did not succeed in full measure. Creativity now had to be adapted to fit in with the limitations imposed. It was all right to make art if one had the time as a mother of three and if there was room for it on a table in the corner of the sculptor's studio. Signe Hammarsten Jansson did not get a room of her own to work in until 1933, when the Janssons moved into a new flat at the Lallukka Artists' Home.

The Jansson family was often in real financial difficulties, although Tove Jansson does not mention feeling deprived as a child. When she wanted a ballet costume, her mother immediately made one. When she wanted a ukulele, one was obtained. Per Olov Jansson does, however, remember wondering where the piano had gone when he had just learned to play Old Man Noah. It was later explained that it had been sold because of a lack of funds.

Signe Hammarsten-Jansson had already done some illustrating before her marriage. In Finland her first work involved book covers, and these for the first time bore the signature 'Ham'. Gradually Ham established her position as one of the foremost book artists in Finland. A second important area of work consisted of cartoons and caricatures, which she had already been drawing in Stockholm. In Finland she began drawing for Lucifer, the Christmas paper put out by the association of Swedish-speaking newspaper journalists, and later she was employed permanently by the liberal satirical magazine Garm. In the 1920s Signe Hammarsten-Jansson took a part-time draughting job at the note-printing works of the Bank of Finland. In 28 years of work she designed 170 circulated postage stamps.

Sculptor's or drawer's daughter?

Tove Jansson entitled her childhood memoirs 'Sculptor's Daughter'. This is probably more of a loving gesture than an indication of her father's basic influence, since in her life and work Jansson was much more clearly the daughter of a drawer than of a sculptor. The memoirs and her diary entries indicate that the symbiosis of mother and daughter was a close one, and it remained so until her mother's death in 1970. Even after Tove had become an adult, the two travelled together, and during her final years Signe also lived with Tove for half of the time. They followed the family tradition of spending their summers at a holiday villa at Pellinki in the archipelago of the Gulf of Finland.

In 1931, while studying at technical school in Stockholm, the 17-year-old Tove wrote to her mother: "I think that you understand me better than anyone else does." A diary entry from 1928 tells us that as a 14-year-old, Tove was already worried about her mother and the fact that the burden of supporting the family rested so heavily on Signe's shoulders: "Mother has important drawing work. (...) I am waiting for the time when I will be able to help her with her drawings. Mother does so much work by herself." Her attitude towards her mother hardly changed over the years. At the age of 78, Tove Jansson was still saying that she "always tried to resemble Mother, always tried to draw like Mother".

After Signe Hammarsten-Jansson's death, the process of grieving is clearly visible and strongly present in Tove Jansson's books - both in the themes of Sent i november (English title: Moominvalley in November) and in Sommarboken (English title: The Summer Book). Indeed, the latter is a depiction of her mother's last summer. Death itself is portrayed in the short story Regn ('Rain') in the collection Lyssnerskan ('The Listener'). Undoubtedly her mother's death also played a part in Jansson's important decision to stop writing Moomin books. The last of them, Moominvalley in November, is like a textbook on letting go, being a mature orphan, existing spiritually alone.

Signe Hammarsten-Jansson's creative ability to cope and her evident contentment with the basic aspects of life are doubtless the things that provided Tove Jansson with the starting points for her long, versatile and productive career as an artist. If her mother had not been able to cope with her heavy load of work, the rest of the family would not have been kept so intact. But she did cope - so well that in her old age she was able to write her own epitaph in the spirit of Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River: I loved an artist, I travelled to his land, I went through four wars, I worked hard for our daily meatballs, I gave birth to three lovely, wonderful children; so everything was actually not that bad at all.

Drawings laughed at in school

Tove Jansson once told the art historian Erik Kruskopf that in her family everyone was criticised and appreciated by the others. Thanks to the support of her home, Jansson was able, without major damage, to cope with such problems as her total inability to fit in with school life. "School was boring, and I have forgotten almost everything about my time at school, including why I was so scared of it", Jansson once remarked.

But some things about the Broberg School have stuck in Jansson's memory. She liked the long journey to school via South Harbour and was afraid of being late. She was good at essay writing, but her drawings were laughed at. She was not popular with the teachers. When she was twelve, she drew a caricature of her teacher on the blackboard and had marks deducted for misbehaviour.

In Tove Jansson's works, school always stands for something unpleasant and destructive. In the park in Farlig midsommar (English title: Moominsummer Madness), for example, there is a horrible school guarded by Hemulens. Tove Jansson in fact left school at the age of fifteen in 1930 and moved to Sweden, where she lived with the family of a maternal uncle. She began studies at the Stockholm College of Applied Art, where in addition to painting, she took subjects including drawing, lettering and heraldry, decorative painting, ceramic art and book art.

It was in Stockholm that Tove made her first acquaintance with the Moomins: her uncle Einar warned her that Moomintroll would come and breathe coldly on the back of her neck if she visited the larder too much during the night. The outward appearance of the Moomins also dates from the 1930s. The large-nosed creature gradually found its way out of Tove Jansson's diary and watercolours and into the 'signature logos' in her drawings for Garm, a Finland-Swedish satirical magazine of the 1940s. Admittedly it was then called Snork or - in the later gallery of Moomins - Niisku. The name and the figure finally became united in the first Moomin book - Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen (English title: The Moomins and the Great Flood) - in 1945.

Drawings by Jansson had already been published in magazines back in the 1920s, first in children's magazines and later also in Garm. At the age of fourteen, she had also already written and illustrated her first picture book; Sara och Pelle och näckens bläckfiskar ('Sara and Pelle and the Water Sprite's Octopuses') was not, however, published until 1933. By then Tove Jansson was already studying at the Helsinki Art Society's drawing school at the Finnish National Gallery, the Ateneum, and the following year she was admitted to its painters' class. During the 1930s she made several trips to Germany and Italy and to France, where she also studied for a while. Jansson's reputation as a talented young painter was growing continually. Her fellow students and contemporaries included Sam Vanni, Eva Cederström and Sakari Tohka.

Between 1934 and 1940 Tove Jansson also wrote a number of short stories, which were published in periodicals and Christmas magazines. In addition, daily papers published chatty, impressionistic articles by Jansson on her travels and the world of art. She illustrated her short stories - and also her own diaries. The combination of picture and word has thus always been something natural for Jansson.

Jansson had already begun her drawing and illustrating career while at the Ateneum, designing many book covers, advertisements, advertising signs and postcards. Like her mother, she drew for the satirical magazine Garm, for the Christmas magazines Julen and Lucifer, and for newspapers and periodicals. The most important of these publications was Garm, which was a forum for Finland-Swedish authors, journalists, scholars and visual artists. During the war it strove to act as a mouthpiece for antifascist opinion and a counterweight to chauvinistic Finnish political movements. Her association with Garm exposed Tove Jansson to the political, psychological and philosophical trends of the time. During the 1940s she was also engaged for a time to the left-wing journalist and politician Atos Wirtanen, a member of the 'peace opposition'.

The death of colours gives birth to a writer

It was war that gave birth to Tove Jansson's first book: the young painter observed "the death of colours" and, amidst all the gloom, wanted a reminder of her childhood happiness and security. Jansson wrote the first version of The Moomins and the Great Flood as early as the period of the Winter War of 1939 - 40. Its hero, the large-nosed Moomintroll, is a mainly comical figure, as Jansson thought it impossible to tell a fairy story in a beautiful or romantic way in the midst of a war.

The setting for all the Moomin books is a valley, in the middle of which the Moomin family lives in a blue house resembling a tiled stove. The central characters are Moomintroll and his parents; they are surrounded by a large group of foster-children, relatives, ancestors, neighbours, friends and frightening strangers - all of them different kinds of fairy-story creatures. In these books, the Moomins generally meet with an adventure or disaster (a flood, a comet that threatens the Earth, a hurricane, magic, a sea monster) involving a journey and a return home. At the end, the Moomins' home life always settles back into its accustomed security, and the books invariably conclude amidst general festivities.

Despite their bohemian lifestyle, the Moomins are fairly materialistic and bourgeois figures. They do not have regular occupations but live on invisible wealth; people with 'real' jobs are often mocked or criticised in the books. But as bohemians, the Moomins are also tolerant and witty. Jansson also has the moral courage to deal naturally with alcohol and death, topics long taboo in children's books.

Nor does she believe in authority - just as her parents did not. Based as it is on her recollections, the core of the Moomin family is very reminiscent of her own. The figure of Viktor Jansson is the same as that of Moominpappa, who occasionally becomes depressed by the verdant calm of Moomin Valley, packs his family into a boat and moves to an islet far out to sea. Just as similar to each other are Moominmamma and Signe Hammarsten-Jansson, fluctuating as they do between creativity and housework.

In interviews Tove Jansson has spoken openly about the backgrounds of and possible models for her other characters. The lively and rational Too-ticky (e.g. in Trollvinter; English title: Moominland Midwinter) bears a clear resemblance to Jansson's companion in life, the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä. Moomintroll can be regarded mainly as a self-portrait: with its modern, sensitive and insecure, illogical tolerance, the figure is a prototype of today's often destructive human being. A second figure portraying Jansson is certainly Little My, an 'arch-child' - rational to the point of cruelty, unscrupulous and brazen.

Moomin Valley, where the Moomins have cleared a garden around their house, is reminiscent in its lushness both of the archipelago in the eastern Gulf of Finland and the Stockholm archipelago. In the shoreline woods and around the house grow lilac and jasmine bushes. A lush landscape was a part of Jansson's own childhood summers. As a very small child, she spent these at her grandparents' villa at Blidö in the Stockholm archipelago. It resembled the Moomins' house with its terrace and slender tower.

In the 1920s Viktor Jansson began renting a summer villa at Pellinki in Porvoo Rural Municipality, fifty kilometres from Helsinki. Throughout her school days, Jansson moved to the island with her family at the end of May aboard the Lovisa and returned to the city in early September. A household help went with them and looked after the family when Signe, who was working at the Bank of Finland, had to stay in town even in summer.

In Sculptor's Daughter we are told that the island has many features similar to those of Moomin Valley. One dominant form of landscape is the island's thick woods, which Jansson has compared to the forests of the Swedish artist John Bauer. According to Tove Holländer, who has studied Jansson's illustrations, the lush, wild landscape also has features from L. Benett's illustrations for Jules Verne's books and Gustave Doré's Bible pictures. These are the sources of the exotic plants and the gorges and precipices.

The second type of landscape in the Moomin books is a barren, rocky outer islet in the Gulf of Finland. It reminds one of Klovharu, the island where Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä spent many summers. Together the two landscapes form a whole, a universe. This is one of the basic characteristics of fantasy literature: classic imaginary worlds - from C. S. Lewis' Narnia and the Transsylvania of Dracula to the city of Tulavall created by Irmeli Sandman Lilius - all consist of worlds closely combining two worlds.

World literature in a nutshell

The popularity of the Moomin books is doubtless due mainly to their psychological rightness and the skill with which the author keeps her balance between the adult world and that of the child. The Moomin books are both children's literature and adult books.

Jansson adheres fairly closely to the traditions of world literature. The individual Moomin themes - travel and return, disaster and its solution, the struggle between good and evil - are eternal. In addition to their associations with the Bible, the Moomin books also have links with Anglo-American fantasy and adventure literature. Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Edgar Rice Boroughs' Tarzan and Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe are obvious sources of inspiration. Jansson herself also mentions Kipling's Jungle Book and the works of Selma Lagerlöf, Karel Capek, James Curwood, Jack London, Joseph Conrad and Edgar Allan Poe as highlights of her reading as a young person.

According to the Swedish literary scholar Boel Westin, Jansson makes use of many different genres throughout her works. She shifts swiftly from the fairy tale to the adventure story and fantasy, even experimenting with a parody of memoir techniques in Muminpappans bravader (English title: The Exploits of Moominpappa) and with Shakespeare's playful, scenic, dialogue-based type of narrative in Moominsummer Madness.

Westin claims that for Jansson, novels and short stories aimed at adults - 'general prose' - are also just one literary genre among many, just one way of writing. In these, too, she moves back and forth between childhood reminiscences, travel accounts and psychological short stories on the one hand and thrillers and horror stories on the other. Thus, unlike many scholars, Westin does not regard Jansson's writing for adults as a step forward with respect to the Moomin books. Rather, Westin claims, precisely the universe of the Moomins is the sort of allegorical totality that should be compared to the worlds of Kafka, García Márquez or Proust.

Because the bond between picture and word is an unbroken one in Tove Jansson's Moomin books, the development of themes can also be observed well in the changing pictures. The title of Tove Holländer's research work on Jansson's illustrations - Från idyll till avidyll ('From idyll to eidolon') - is an apt one. According to Holländer, the first, wartime Moomin was thin and had piercing eyes. Peace made it rounder and softer. The rounding process continued into the 1950s: the figure was at its fattest in Moominsummer Madness - the happiest and most action-packed of the books - in 1958. In the first more serious Moomin book, Moominland Midwinter, the figure is again thinner, and more attention than before is paid to its expressions. The same thing happens to the troll's parents in the novel Pappan och havet (English title: Moominpappa at Sea), in which Jansson probes into their internal crises. Det osynliga barnet och andra berättelser (English title: Tales from Moominvalley) consists almost exclusively of studies in individual psychology; its pictures have unclear lines, and it is more impressionistic than previous works.

In their alternation between internal and external events, the Moomin books also rely heavily on the cycles of Nature and the ages of Man. As the series of Moomin books becomes more serious, it seems to be moving steadily towards autumn and winter, an emptying out and a bright clarity. Moods also influence the style of the works. The light, summery Trollkarlen's hatt (English title: Finn Family Moomintroll) and Moominsummer Madness, written early in Jansson's career, are full of comic and romantic ingredients. The season of Moominpappa at Sea and Moominvalley in November is autumn. They are also the most serious of the books, dealing with tragic, inevitable aspects of human life: loneliness, ageing, alienation and inadequacy. In turn, Moominland Midwinter presents Moomintroll conventionally deep in winter sleep amidst a snow-covered landscape. Adaptation to a new environment is something that Jansson does not treat completely seriously. A pinch of irony and good-natured mockery is directed at the numbing effects of social and sexual conventions.

The same trend is visible in Jansson's more recent work. The short stories and novels reiterate the androgynous nature of the characters and their outsider status - aspects already emphasised in Moominland Midwinter. Indeed Jansson has stated that she stopped writing about the Moomins in 1970 because Moomintroll was approaching puberty: depicting the wavering nature of the sexual identity would have evidently been too problematic. After this, it was the turn of other kinds of prose: most of the books for adults consist of intimate, tough novels and short stories about human relationships.

In her last short-story collections, Rent spel ('Fair Play') and Brev från Klara och andra berättelser ('Letter from Klara and other stories'), Jansson again and again weaves profound and dramatic variations on the theme of human relationships, sharpening her character types and polishing her modes of expression. Most of the characters are men - or women whose sex is of secondary importance. Jansson often constructs her portraits of women on the basis of two extremes or poles: the grandmother and little grand-daughter in The Summer Book; the sensitive old artist and the energetic housekeeper in Den ärliga bedragaren ('The Honourable Swindler'); and Mari, struggling between respectability and guilt, and her laconic, logical companion Jonna in Rent spel. The construction of a whole human being thus requires two women; the characteristics of one are not enough for Jansson.

Arrangements, comic strips and public art

Though Tove Jansson's world fame is indisputably the result of her literary output, she herself has always regarded writing as more of a hobby alongside her visual art. From the 1940s onwards her work in painting 'proper' decreased in favour of book illustrating and comic strips - and occasional theatre sets. According to Erik Kruskopf, her career as an artist is illustrative of the whole postwar development of Finnish art: although she kept abreast of new international trends, she did not want to follow them herself but as an artist represented tradition and basic values.

Jansson held her first solo exhibition in 1943. Despite fairly positive reviews, the oil paintings were criticised for their lack of finish: there were, it was claimed, too many details and contents in their design and arrangement. A trip to France and Italy in 1948 clarified Jansson's artistic goals; she stopped overloading her canvases and brought more precision into her compositions. The change in her style and language of form were already visible in her 1955 solo exhibition, in the form of simplicity and a reduction verging on the abstract.

However, she did not go over to non-figurative work until the second active period in her painting career in the 1960s, when she held a total of five solo exhibitions within ten years. Then, too, her technical procedure was the same as before: her starting point was a concrete subject. According to the art historian Erik Kruskopf, reality always remained the foundation of even her more abstract works.

Kruskopf sees two obstacles in the way of real development and change in Jansson's art. One is the feeling of insecurity that dogged Jansson throughout her life, even after she had achieved fame as a drawer and writer. This may be associated with her personality and the feeling of being an outsider, but her home background may also play a role. The second factor is her enormously serious attitude towards the visual arts. As a drawer and writer she made much use of parody, and she also talked about this aspect of her work in public. On the subject of her paintings she was reluctant to be interviewed.

A significant amount of Jansson's output in the visual arts consists of commissioned work and decorative painting for public areas. The first such job - for the canteen at the Strömberg factory at Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki - dates from 1945. She did similar, more notable jobs for places such as the Aurora children's hospital, the restaurant of Helsinki Town Hall and the Seurahuone hotel at Hamina. There are also murals of hers with fairy-tale themes in schools and kindergartens. Her altarpiece (1954) in Teuva Church has as its theme the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Her last public-area oil paintings were done in 1984 for a kindergarten in Pori.

In the theatre Jansson collaborated with the director Vivica Bandler in the 1950s. This work involved children's plays with Moomin themes, and Jansson participated in the designing of sets and costumes. In 1952 the Finnish National Opera commissioned her to do sets and costumes for Ahti Sonninen's children's ballet Pessi ja Illusia. 1974 saw the production of a Moomin opera, for which Jansson designed the costumes.

Tove Jansson's career as a comic-strip artist began in 1947 in the periodical Ny Tid. In 1953 the British concern Associated Newspapers offered her the job of drawing a Moomin comic for its Evening News. Over a period of three-and-a-half years, she drew fourteen stories consisting of more than a thousand strips. Jansson finally felt her ideas running out, and her brother Lars continued the work.

Quite a new kind of Moomin renaissance, based partly on the comics and partly on the illustrations in the Moomin books, was initiated in the 1980s by a European-Japanese animated TV series. Moomins are now available all over the world in the form of toys, clothes and sweets. There is a Moomin theme park at Naantali, and a similar park is planned for Hawaii. The renaissance reached a splendid climax in 1994, when Jansson celebrated her 80th birthday. During a summer of celebrations, numerous articles dealing with the author's work, visual art and childhood appeared in various newspapers and magazines. There were radio and television broadcast repeats of programmes made over the years, a retrospective and a research seminar were organised, and a commemorative book and a disc were issued.

Even after this, Jansson did not rest on her laurels. Anteckningar från en ö ('Pictures from an island'), written in collaboration with Tuulikki Pietilä in 1996, describes the summers spent by the two artists on Klovharu Island over the decades.

Suvi Ahola

Translated by Roderick Fletcher


Tove Marika Jansson, born 9.8.1914 Helsinki. Parents: Viktor Bernhard Jansson, sculptor, born 1886, died 1958, and Signe Hammarsten, illustrator and drawer, born 1882, died 1970.

© Biografiakeskus, Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, PL 259, 00171 HELSINKI

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