A virtual memoir in letters by the beloved creator of the Moomins
Tove Jansson’s works, even her famed Moomin books, fairly teem with letters of one kind or another, from messages bobbing in bottles to whole epistolary novels. Fortunately for her countless readers, her life was no different, unfolding as it did in the letters to family, friends, and lovers that make up this volume, a veritable autobiography over the course of six decades—and the only one Jansson ever wrote. And just as letters carry a weight of significance in Jansson’s writing, those she wrote throughout her life reflect the gravity of her circumstances, the depth of her thoughts and feelings, and the critical moments of humor, sadness, and grace that mark an artist’s days.
These letters, penned with characteristic insight and wit, provide an almost seamless commentary on Jansson’s life within Helsinki’s bohemian circles and on her island home. Shifting between hope and despair, yearning and happiness, they describe her immersion in art studies and her ascension to fame with the Moomins. They speak frankly of friendship and love, loneliness and solidarity, and also of politics, art, literature, and society. They summon a particular place and time reflected through a mind finely attuned to her culture, her world, and her own nature—all clearly put into biographical and historical context by the volume’s editors, both longtime friends of Tove Jansson—and, in the end, draw a complex, intimate self-portrait of one of the world’s most beloved authors.
About the Author
Finnish writer, artist, and political cartoonist Tove Jansson (1914–2001) is best known for her books about the Moomins, adventurous, amusing cartoon trolls who had much in common with their bohemian, nature-loving author and, it seems, shared many of her family’s traits. She is also the author of eleven novels and short-story collections for adults, including The Summer Book and The True Deceiver.
Boel Westin is professor of literature at Stockholm University and author of the biography Tove Jansson: Life, Words, Art. She is chairman of jury for the world’s largest children’s literature prize, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
Helen Svensson was a literary manager at Schildts Forlag Publishers for thirty years where she was Jansson’s last editor.
Sarah Death is a prizewinning literary translator, mainly from Swedish, with some forty translated titles to her name.
"Reading these letters, you will gradually fall under the illusion that they are addressed to you. This is how inviting, candid, and quietly dazzling Tove Jansson’s prose is in her correspondence. Letters from Tove is a fundamental addition to Jansson’s oeuvre. At the end of the book, you will feel that you have a new, very close friend."—Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance
"Tove Jansson was a genius, a woman of profound wisdom and great artistry."—Philip Pullman
"It’s hard to describe the astonishing achievement of Jansson’s artistry."—Ali Smith
"Tove Jansson is one of the greatest children’s writers there has ever been."—Sir Terry Pratchett
"Witty, shrewd, and hugely entertaining."—The Spectator
"Treasures aplenty—cultural history gems as well as biographical revelations, all related in a voice that’s funny, gracious, intimate."—The Guardian
"Offers readers the privilege of spending time inside an intelligent, creative, curious, generous, funny, unsentimental mind."—The Irish Times