Partner Tuulikki Pietilä
Academy of Fine Arts, Elimäenkatu 25 A, 00510 Helsinki, Finlandia
École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, 14 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, Francia
Konstfack - University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Lm Ericssons väg 14, 126 27 Stockholm, Svezia
Hietaniemi cemetery, Sanduddsgatan 20, 00100 Helsingfors, Finlandia
Tove Marika Jansson (9 August 1914 – 27 June 2001) was a Swedish-speaking Finnish author, novelist, painter, illustrator and comic strip author. Brought up by artistic parents, Jansson studied art from 1930 to 1938 in Stockholm, Helsinki and then Paris. Her first solo art exhibition was in 1943. At the same time, she was writing short stories and articles for publication, as well as creating the graphics for book covers and other purposes. She continued to work as an artist for the rest of her life, alongside her writing.
Jansson wrote the Moomin books for children, starting in 1945 with The Moomins and the Great Flood. The next two books, Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll, published in 1946 and 1948 respectively, saw the series achieve high sales.
Starting with the semi-autobiographical Bildhuggarens dotter (Sculptor's Daughter) in 1968, she wrote six novels including the admired Sommarboken (The Summer Book) and five books of short stories for adults. For her work as a children's writer she received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1966.
Tove Jansson was born in Helsinki, Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire. Her family, part of the Swedish-speaking minority of Finland, was an artistic one: her father, Viktor Jansson, was a sculptor and her mother, Signe Hammarsten-Jansson, was a Swedish-born graphic designer and illustrator. Tove's siblings also became artists: Per Olov Jansson became a photographer and Lars Jansson an author and cartoonist. Whilst their home was in Helsinki, the family spent many of their summers in a rented cottage on an island near Borgå, 50 km east of Helsinki.
Tove Jansson painting a fresco in 1947
Jansson studied at University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, in Stockholm in 1930–33, the Graphic School of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 1933–1937 and finally at L'École d'Adrien Holy and L'École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1938. She displayed a number of artworks in exhibitions during the 30s and early 40s, and her first solo exhibition was held in 1943.
Aged 14, she wrote and illustrated her first picture book "Sara och Pelle och näckens bläckfiskar" ("Sara and Pelle and Neptune's Children") although it was not published until 1933, and had drawings published in magazines in the 1920s. During the 1930s she made several trips to other European countries, and wrote and illustrated short stories and articles which were also published in magazines, periodicals and daily papers. During this period, Jansson designed many book covers, adverts and postcards, and, following her mother, she drew illustrations for Garm, an anti-fascist Finnish-Swedish satirical magazine.
Briefly engaged in the 1940s to Atos Wirtanen, she later during her studies met her future partner Tuulikki Pietilä. The two women collaborated on many works and projects, including a model of the Moominhouse, in collaboration with Pentti Eistola. This is now exhibited at the Moomin museum in Tampere.
Jansson wrote and illustrated her first Moomin book, The Moomins and the Great Flood, in 1945, during World War II. She said later that the war had depressed her and she had wanted to write something naïve and innocent. This first book was hardly noticed, but the next Moomin books, Comet in Moominland (1946) and Finn Family Moomintroll (1948), made her famous. She went on to write six more Moomin books, a number of picture books and comic strips. Her fame spread quickly and she became Finland's most widely read author abroad. For her "lasting contribution to children's literature" she received the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing in 1966. She continued painting and writing for the rest of her life, although her contributions to the Moomin series became rare after 1970.
Jansson's first foray outside children's literature was Bildhuggarens dotter (Sculptor's Daughter), a semi-autobiographical book written in 1968. After that, she wrote five more novels, including Sommarboken (The Summer Book) and five collections of short stories.
Although she had a studio in Helsinki, she lived many summers on a small island called Klovharu, one of the Pellinge Islands near the town of Borgå. Jansson's and Pietilä's travels and summers spent together on the Klovharu island in Pellinki have been captured on several hours of film, shot by Pietilä. Several documentaries have been made of this footage, the latest being Haru, yksinäinen saari (Haru, the lonely island) (1998) and Tove ja Tooti Euroopassa (Tove and Tooti in Europe) (2004).
Jansson died on 27 June 2001 at the age of 86. She is buried in the Hietaniemi Cemetery in Helsinki.
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