Tove Jansson, Too-ticky and a life of pride
Moomin tales have been delighting readers for decades. Now it's time to pay tribute to their creator's queer legacy
For the past seven decades, a family of Finnish trolls have captured the hearts of children and adults the world over. With their protruding bellies and penchant for adventure, these fairytale creatures have become firm favourites on our bookshelves, loved as much for their cheerful nature as their tight-knit family values. They are, of course, the Moomins.
Few could have foreseen that the pen and ink illustrations sketched during the tail end of a bleak war would inspire a global phenomenon, not least for their creator, the artist, writer and illustrator Tove Jansson. The idea was born one summer’s day in the 1930s, when the teenage Jansson was discussing philosophy with her brother Per Olov by their cottage in Pellinki. The siblings got into a disagreement about Immanuel Kant; and in a fit of irritation she drew the ugliest creature she could imagine on the outhouse’s wall.
What started as a hastily drawn doodle soon began to make a regular appearance in Jansson’s cover illustra-tions for satirical magazine Garm in the early 1940s. The creature in question, a long-snouted troll dubbed Snork, could frequently be found hiding in the background of anti-Nazi cartoons, or peeking out from behind her signature. Over the next few years, Snork grew rounder, lighter, and with friendlier features. By 1945, an entire fictional family was introduced to the world in Jansson’s first children’s book, The Moomins And The Great Flood. The rest, as they say, is history.
Find out more about the queer history of the Moomins in the April issue of DIVA, available to buy in print or digitally here.
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