The Finnish-Swedish writer and artist Tove Jansson achieved worldwide fame as the creator of the Moomin stories, written between 1945 and 1970 and still in print in more than twenty languages. However, the Moomins were only a part of her prodigious output. Already admired in Nordic art circles as a painter, cartoonist and illustrator, she would go on to write a series of classic novels and short stories. She remains Scandinavia’s best loved author. Tove Jansson’s work reflected the tenets of her life: her love of family (and special bond with her mother), of nature, and her insistence on freedom to pursue her art. Love and work was the motto she chose for herself and her approach to both was joyful and uncompromising. If her relationships with men foundered on her ambivalence towards marriage, those with women came as a revelation, especially the love and companionship she found with her long-time partner, the artist Tuulikki Pietila, with whom she lived on the solitary island of Klovharu. In this meticulously researched, authorised biography, Boel Westin draws together the many threads of Jansson’s life: from the studies interrupted to help her family; the dark shades of war and her emergence as an artist with a studio of her own; to the years of Moomin-mania, and later novel writing. Based on numerous conversations with Tove, and unprecedented access to her journals, letters and personal archives, Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words offers a rare and privileged insight into the world of a writer whom Philip Pullman described, simply, as ‘a genius’.
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