Letters from Moomintroll Valley’s creator

Letters from Moomintroll Valley’s creator

The great Finnish artist, writer and children’s author Tove Jansson was a polymath. Memorably, she was the creator of that alternative great saga of Finland, tales of the lives of the Finn Family Moomintroll and friends in Moomintroll Valley and its environs. From the point these books were published, followed by a TV series screened in many different parts of the world, the resulting fame led to her receiving many, many letters, sometimes hundreds a week. It has been calculated this added up to around 90,000 letters. They were all replied to, and they were all replied to by hand and pen, never with a typewriter. And she also wrote many letters to friends and lovers as well, sometimes over decades. A selection of these diverse groups of letters was published in 2020, with the cover of this book shown here. It is a beautiful and fascinating edition of the letters.

The letters themselves are sometimes riveting, sometimes everyday, sometimes mundane, sometimes have startling content. They are worth reading for another reason, as well as their intrinsic interest and importance to know more about this remarkable woman. Tove Jansson was indeed an artist, and letter-writing was for her not only a matter of words on paper but images too, drawings of different kinds. There are some similarities here with another writing polymath, the English author Arthur Ransom, creator of the Swallows and Amazons books, whose letters are similarly replete with visual imagery such that, regarding one edition which omitted these, the text of the letters that was left barely made sense. Tove Jansson has been better served by her editors.

Tove Jansson’s letters are charming, readable, varied and throw a very interesting light on this remarkable woman. They are a really good read.

Last updated:  18 June 2021