Happy Birthday, Tove Jansson
Born 9.8.1914 in Helsinki, Finland.
Tove Jansson was an incredible artist. She was a multitalented painter, writer and illustrator who created many wonderful pieces of art. Her best-known works are Moomin books and illustrations and comics centered around these characters, but she was also a talented painter with a very keen eye for color and technique. She also wrote many books and stories after finishing Moomin books. Tove Jansson was born under the shadow of WWI and grew up during the Finnish Civil War. When she was a young woman, she had to live through WWII and witness all the horrors of the time. This shaped her into a pacifist with strong anti-violence opinions.
Moomin books containt many precious and timeless ideals. Stories have themes like acceptance and loneliness, love for nature and value of freedom. Instead of giving tired morals, Tove delicately talks about things that are necessary but often forgotten. Every little creature has the right to be angry and without getting angry, you will never get your own face. Family and friends should support and love one another, but this also means letting others explore freely and with knowledge that those at home will not worry over them. Even the coldest Groke can turn warm with kindness. The books are suited for both children and adults, no matter the century or millenium. Moomins have been used as icons for environmental campaigns and to promote children’s well-being. They have evolved from children’s characters into cultrual icons of Finland.
Besides being a genius with many talents, Tove Jansson was known as a brave and caring woman. She had very bold and forward-thinking ideas about gender equality and was critical of the role women were given during 1900s. Tove Jansson was never to give up her art and career to settle down. She also defended the rights of Jewish people under the shadow of WWII and often brought attention to the plight civilians faced during wartime.
Tove Jansson was employed by the satire magazine Garm, for which she drew many sharp political caricatures. In her drawings she often criticized fascism and communism around Europe. She was later quoted to have said that mocking Hitler was one of the most satisfying things she got to do in her career. Her work was so critical about war and political figures of the time that she even faces censorship.
Love of her life was Tuulikki Pietilä. Their relationship laster over half a century. Tove never tried to hide her love, even in a time when homosexuality was a crime and later classified as a mental illness. She rebelled against oppressive systems of her time by living against them every day. She and Tuulikki were devoted to one another and their relationship only ended with Tove’s death in 2001. Tove even brought her lover with her to attend Independence Day celebrations in Presidential Palace (note that same-sex couples have faced opposition as lately as 2010s). They shared their work and dreams, settled on an island together and traveled around the world.
Tove Jansson was an incredible woman and everything she left behind will continue to impact lives of many children and adults for years to come.