The Moomins


TOVE JANSSON was born on August 9th, 1914 into a finnish-swedish family and grew up in Helsinki. Her father was a sculptor and her mother an artist and Finland's top stamp desiner. With the age of 15 Tove left school and helped her mother, Signe Hammarsten-Jansson as illustrator of the journal Garm. When she was 18 Tove already was an established illustrator and designer for advertisments. Besides her abstract painting experiments, she made water-color and ink illustrations, caricatures and titel pages.
Tove studied at the universities of art in Stockholm and Helsinki. After that she made educational trips to Rome and Paris, where she lived for some years. 1938 she studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
At the same time of Tove's first exhibitions some of her short stories in Swedish were released. The common story of Tove and the Moomins already started in the 1930s, when the student Tove lived with a relative family in Sweden. As she used to go to the larder at night, her uncle warned her of Moomin, who was lurking there for her. Moomin's shape was drawed for the first time in 1941 for the journal Julen. In 1943 the Moomin figure was published as Toves distinctive mark in the satire journal Garm. With the political caricatures in this journal she showed her protest against the Nazis and Finland's alliance with the Third Reich.
 
But Tove had drawn the Moomin even before: The inferiority in a quarrel with her brother Per Olov made her sketch a hideous ghost on the wall. This ghost got the name of the ghost in her uncle's larder. The vicious, long-beaked troll which it was at the beginning, later became a rotund and friedly Moomin.
 
Jansson wrote the first of the books, which made her famous later, when she was 31: „The Little Trolls and the Great Flood“. This book, which hasn't been published in English yet, was illustrated sparely. Tove's breakthrough with the Moomins didn't come before 1953 with the commission of the british Evening News, which pulished a daily comic series about the Moomins. The newspaper made the following conditions for Tove Jansson's work: Each comic strip had to have a happy end; politics, sex and death should not appear. Soon this Moomins series was sold world-wide and the Moomins quickly found the way to children's hearts.
 
In total Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated eight Moomin novels and three picture books and wrote the text for the picture book „The Rascal at Moomin house“. The Moomin books had been written in Swedish before the first finnish book was published in 1952. All the Moomin books of the year 1960 to 1980 had been published in Swedish and Finnish at the same time. In total the stories had been published in 34 languages.
 
For her literary achievment Tove Jansson received some 50 awards and nominations, including the Nils Holgersson prize in 1953, the Hans Christian Andersen medal in 1966, the Order of the Smile Polish children's award in 1975 and the title of honorary professor issued by Finland's president in 1995. She died on 27th June 2001.
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