Dead People You Should Know: Tove Jansson

Dead People You Should Know: Tove Jansson

By Paola Vicini Jaramillo


Tove Jansson was Swedish-speaking, Finnish multi-talented artist born on the August 9th, 1914, in Helsinki, Finland. She was born into a family of artists, which is why she began her pursuit of the arts from a young age. Her artistic studies went on for a decade, having studied multiple art media in Stockholm and Paris, as well as her hometown of Helsinki. While also making public works at the same time, Tove began working as head of design for satirical magazine Garm, where some of the first appearances of her characters, the Moomins, could be found in various political cartoons.


In 1945, Jansson published “The Moomins and the Great Flood”, the first book out of nine about the The Moomins, a family of white, soft and rounded, hippopotamus-like trolls, their friends, and their adventures. The Moominvalley series was a tremendous success, and they have been translated into over fifty languages. Tove was also passionate about topics such as anti-fascism, feminism, and LGBTQ rights.  While she had had most of her relationships with men, she ended up meeting female artist Tuulikki Pietilä in 1955 and spent the rest of her life with her as her romantic partner. And although she often could not be too open about some of these topics, a lot of these themes can clearly be seen in her many stories and artworks.


Jansson retired and went to live in her family’s summer cottage by the sea with Tuulikki, and died on June 27th, 2001, at the age of 86. However, her legacy most certainly lives on. Tove is now known as one of the best writers and/or artists in Finnish history. Her stories resonated with both children and adults all across the world, and her work was a big part of many people’s childhoods over many decades. Her Moominvalley stories and characters have become a huge franchise, having been adapted into a comic book series, five picture books, and multiple animated series over the decades. There’s even a Moominvalley theme park in Japan! Her impact/influence on popular culture is still very present today and will likely still be there in the foreseeable future.


For more about this esteemed artist, click here:

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