This weekend marks 100 years since the woman, the legend, the heroine and the mother of Moomins first graced this Earth. Tove Jansson was born on August 9th in 1914 and lived through wars and hardships like no other; using art and literature as a tool to not only express her feelings but to communicate them, Jansson illustrated and wrote the words and pictures that we cherish today in languages all over the world. She transformed the way in which storytelling is used in that she gave it a purpose greater than entertaining young children or reciting a tale of old. She told of the adventures of fantastical beasts and juxtaposed this whimsical narrative with raw, cautionary tales of suffering, loss, war and pain. Her books were not and are not children’s books, her books are for everyone and are just as relevant in today’s society as they were when she first put pen to paper in her native language of Swedish.
Tove may be renowned for her presence as the Moomin mother, but within her lifetime she achieved so much and longed to be remembered for something other than her little trolls. She wrote. She painted. She loved. She travelled. She was the Sculptor’s daughter, she was Ham’s little girl. She was a caring sister and a pen pall to friends over oceans. She was a pioneer.
I admire and appreciate this woman for her independence, for her way of living, for her creations and for her input to the world. Tove Jansson is an asset to the world in which we live, a historical figure of feminism and art who will never fade.
Tove lived in solidarity on an island of her own just off the gulf of Finland. She built her house herself and reflected her life here in the stories of the Moomins and within her novel ‘The Summer Book’.
Though the Moomins’ stage productions were short-lived and less well-received than the original books, Jansson put her love for these creatures and her dedication to work into the theatrical performance.
In Tove’s letters she often referred to painting as her passion, whilst writing and drawing became ‘work’. She even began to hate the superstar she had created in Moomin for the strain he brought to her own life.
Tove came from a family of creative wonders, here she is seen seated next to her brother Lars who took over Tove’s Moomin work as a comic artist for ‘Garm’.
And Tove loved. She loved men and women and people and monsters and trolls and family and friends and nature. She loved and she was loved in return.
Thank you, Tove Jansson. Thank you for living, for existing and for inspiring.
Be still, my Moomin heart!