by Boel Westin
translated by Silvester Mazzarella
University of Minnesota Press, 2024
Cloth: 978-1-5179-1729-6 | eISBN: 978-1-4529-7120-9


An in-depth, perceptive account of the unconventional life of the Moomins’ beloved creator, now available in the United States

Tove Jansson achieved fame as the creator of the Moomins, beloved by generations of readers around the world. Remarkably, the Moomins were only part of the prodigious creative output of this Finnish-Swedish writer and artist. Jansson’s work also includes short stories and five novels for adults, as well as paintings, murals, and book illustrations. In this acclaimed biography, Boel Westin relies on numerous conversations with Jansson and unprecedented access to her journals, letters, and personal archives to present an engrossing and comprehensive review of the life and world of Scandinavia’s best-loved author.

As Westin’s meticulous research makes clear, Jansson’s artistic and literary works reflected what was most important to her: the love of family and nature and the desire to pursue her art. Guided by her personal motto, “Love and work,” Jansson seized both with uncompromising joy. And while her romantic relationships with men proved unfulfilling, she found those with women—especially with her longtime partner, the artist Tuulikki Pietilä—both grounding and inspiring.

Westin weaves together the many threads of Jansson’s rich, complex life: an education interrupted to help her family; the bleak war years and her emergence as a painter; the decades of Moominmania across books, newspaper comic strips, merchandise, and adaptations; her later fictions, including her popular The Summer Book; and her time with Pietilä on the solitary island of Klovharu. Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words offers fans and admirers around the world the most complete portrait of the writer Philip Pullman described as “a genius, a woman of profound wisdom and great artistry.”