Love

In the middle of 1950s Tove was very, very lonely. Her letters of that time are melancholy, as she desperately yearned for true love. By this time she was very interested in dating women (as to her, Atos Wirtanen was in a way the last man she wanted to love). But circles were small in a small town, where homosexual acts were both a disease and illegal.

It was 1955, when Tove met Tuulikki Pietilä. They knew each other vaguely by looks. They had attended Ateneum’s art school at the same time but Tuulikki was few years younger and usually students spent time with their own language group (Tove spoke Swedish, Tuulikki Finnish).

The love story which lasted until their deaths, almost half a century began at Pikkujoulu party (”Little Christmas” in Finnish, a party traditionally held in anticipation on Christmas, usually among coworkers or friends) arranged by Finnish art society. Tove asked Tuulikki to dance, but she declined - probably out of propriety. But later Tuulikki sent Tove a card picturing a striped cat and asked her to visit her atelier.

Next summer Tuulikki visited Tove at an island. Love was born. Tove wrote; “I have finally come home to that one person whom I want to be with”. The picture of a striped cat was always and still is on the wall of Tove’s atelier. The couple spent their summers together on an island and winters working in their ateliers, which were right next door from each other.

It can be said that Tuulikki saved Moominvalley. By the time they began their relationship, Tove was absolutely tired of Moomins. Tuulikki’s support restored Tove’s belief in Moomins and they became an important hobby to them both.

Moomin book Moominland Midwinter (1957) is a book about loving and falling in love with Tuulikki. And it really shows. In the book, Moomintroll (who is an avatar of Tove Jansson) wakes up in the middle of unfamiliar and eerie winter, facing loneliness and death for the first time. In the middle of all cold and silence Moomintroll finds Too-Ticky, who’s calmly watching a snow lantern. Too-Ticky is robust and strong with blonde hair and a knife at her hip; everything Tuulikki was.

Too-Ticky becomes Moomintroll’s calm and supportive mentor. She never gives ready answers and instead gently guides Moomintroll as he grows and learns. It is Too-Ticky who says the phrase which Tove repeated often in her interviews and which was seemingly one of her most important philophies: “Everything is insecure and that makes me calm”.

After Tuulikki’s first visit Tove wrote; “I love you both enchanted and very calm at the same time, and I don’t fear anything that might await us”. After finding Tuulikki, Tove described how much calmer and safer she felt. Whole living felt easier.

Tove Jansson attended the Independence Day celebrations in Presidential Palace, Helsinki together with her life partner Tuulikki Pietilä in 1992. This celebration is an important tradition in Finland and the broadcast is one of the most watched shows on Finnish TV each year.

They were the first same-sex couple to ever attend this celebration. The press of the time accused the couple of disgracing the event. Keep in mind, that homosexuality was punisheable by law in Finland until 1971 and was officially listed as a disease until 1981, so acceptance is not that old. Even in recent years there have been those who have expressed opinions against same-sex couples attending Independence Day celebrations together.

Let their example inspire you as well.

Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Finland on March 1, 2017!

In 1947, Tove Jansson began one of her most famous and most challenging art projects ever. She was ordered to paint two large frescos to the dining room of the Helsinki city hall, by Erik von Frenckell. Tove began the ambitious work with passion to celebrate the time after war in Finland. Each step she reported to her “beloved Vifslan”, Vivica Bandler.

Vivica Bandler was Tove’s first female lover. Their love was passionate and all-consuming. Tove worshipped Vivica and described that loving her had changed everything. All things felt new and all feelings were more intense. And Tove was not shy about showing this love, even if she did it in secret (note, homosexuality was illegal in Finland until 1971 and listed as a disease until 1981).

One of the boldest and bravest gestures was in one of the frescos ordered by von Frenckell (Vivica’s father, actually).

The blonde woman smoking her cigarette is Tove herself and the dark-haired woman dancing behind her is Vivica. Painting them so close and so visible was a brave move on Tove’s part and served to fuel the rumours around them. Tove laid out her love for all the world to see, but in a careful way.

Tove and Vivica even appear in Moomin books; as Thingumy and Bob from Finn Family Moomintroll (1948). Their original Swedish names, Tofslan and Vifslan, give away the connection. These two speak in a secret language only they can understand and are running away from The Groke who wants to steal their precious gem; the most beautiful thing in the world. You do not need deep analysis to see what the story represents.

Eventually Tove’s and Vivica’s love ended like all quick and passionate love stories; to it’s own impossibility. Like with about all her lovers, Tove still remained friends with Vivica. Hot summer turned to cool autumn in the book and the frescos were finished.

lemme tell y’all something my swedish teacher taught us

DISCLAIMER: I have literally zero sources on this and save for the background info, I might be talking out of my arse.

Anyway, there’s this group of people called the finn-swedes. They are people who are finnish, live in Finland, but speak Swedish as a first language. It’s due to them that Finland is a bilingual country, though they are quite a small minority living mostly at the coast.

 One of them was this lovely woman named Tove Jansson; An artist, an author and a profilic LGBT figure.

The creatures on her hands and on the table are called moomins, her most known creation though not the one she was most fond of. She saw herself mostly as a painter, but the moomins were a hit, and she wrote a whole series of books, which was later adapted into a cartoon animated in Japan (so technically speaking an anime).

The show is now a staple of a finnish childhood, and many finns will regard it fondly.

BUT this is the part that gets fun (and potentially bs)

While the finnish dub of the show was done in Finland, the swedish dub was also done in Finland, by a cast of finn-swede voice actors, perhaps as a homage to the original author or maybe it was cheaper or some shit, idk. Regardless, the swedish dub was shown in Sweden as well, and if finn-swedes are rare in Finland, they are much rarer in Sweden.

 So the first and perhaps the only time that Swedish children have encountered a finn-swede accent (dialect? someone correct me) was in this sickeningly sweet (though sometimes unnecessarily terrifying) cartoon about these pastel-coloured gentle anarchists.

 So from a swedish perspective, finn-swedes talk like moomins.

Who Will Comfort Toffle?

Tove Jansson wrote the book “Who Will Comfort Toffle?” after receiving a letter from a fan. In the letter the young boy expressed how sad, lonely and scared he is. The letter was signed “Toffle”. Tove was so moved that she wrote a book about a small, frightened creature who lives all alone until one day, when he embarks on a journey to find friends. Toffle ends up finding a letter from someone even smaller and even more scared than him, Miffle.

Toffle rescues Miffle from The Groke and they live happily ever after. Tove thought that helping someone even weaker might make Toffle feel more confident and give him courage to become happy. The story is one of Tove’s most delicate and the book is filled with beautiful, detailed pictures.