The Moomins of Tove Jansson

Welcome to the whimsical world of the Moomins, Finland’s most beloved fictional characters that have captured the hearts of both children and adults alike around the globe. These charming and quirky creatures sprung from the imagination of Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson, embedding themselves deeply into Finnish culture and beyond.

The Moomintrolls, with their distinctive hippopotamus-like silhouettes, dwell in the idyllic setting of Moominvalley, embarking on adventures that are both heartwarming and profound, reflecting the intricacies of human nature and the simple joys of life.

Tove Jansson’s Moomins first came to life in the 1940s, quickly becoming a literary sensation that has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon. Finland, the birthplace of Jansson and the Moomins, celebrates this legacy through literature, art, theme parks, and a plethora of Moomin-inspired merchandise.

The Moomins are more than just a series of books and cartoons; they are a reflection of Finland’s soul, embodying its appreciation for nature, family, and the freedom to be one’s true self. In this article, we are going to review these dear individuals and discover how Tove Jansson’s creations continue to enchant and inspire.

Who are the moomins

Moomins are a family of white trolls with large snouts that resemble a hippopotamus. The family and their friends live in the Moominvalley. As fall approaches, the moomins prepare to hibernate, and by the time the valley is covered in snow, the characters are already fast asleep.

Moomins love the sea and sometimes go on voyages of exploration that take them far from Moominvalley. Among these adventures we find Moomintroll and Moominmamma crossing a dark forest in which there are different dangers, a comet that is about to destroy the valley or the adventures of the characters after finding a magician’s hat.

Tove Jansson, famous Finnish writer

Tove Jansson was born in Helsinki in 1914 and is considered one of the leading figures in Finnish literature at the international level, thanks mainly to her children’s work led by the moomins.

Jansson developed her two careers, as a painter and as an illustrator and writer, in parallel, with her second being the one that brought her fame. Her first works as an illustrator date from 1929 and are strips for advertising campaigns. It wasn’t until 1945 that Tove Jansson wrote the first book about the moomins. This was, in fact, the least successful and has not even been translated into a lot of languages. It is the next two of hers, Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll, which led her to fame.

Illustration of Tove Jansson with the Moomins
Illustration of Tove Jansson with the characters (© Moomin Characters™)

After publishing a large number of novels, collections of short stories and picture books, in 1970 he presented his last book featuring these characters and went on to dedicate himself to adult literature, a subject in which it was not particularly recognized, being only translated one of his novels into Spanish.

The work about the moomins: novels, comic strips and comics

The first book of the moomins (Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen), as we have said before, was published in 1945, although Jansson began to write it in 1939. This one stars Moomintroll and Moominmamma and is considered a prequel to the main story that begins, therefore, in the second book.

Comet in Moominland (Kometjakten) is the name of the second book. In it, most of the main characters of the Moomin universe appear for the first time, except for Moomintroll and Moominmamma who already appeared in the previous one. Unlike the first, this one enjoys worldwide recognition and is the first of the books translated into international languages, like Spanish. Finn Family Moomintroll (Trollkarlens hatt) is the name of the third novel (1948) and is also considered one of his most famous works.

In 1954 the Evening News, a London newspaper, began running comic strips about the characters. Even though Tove stopped producing such publications in 1961 because he had no time to write major works and paint, her brother Lars continued with them until 1975.

Main characters of the Moomins
Some of the main characters of the Moomins (© Moomin Characters™)

Tove Jansson took a different tone since the novel published in 1957 as Moominland Midwinter (Trollvinter), whose story takes a more realistic tone and the characters begin to acquire psychological depth. In this work, Moomintroll wakes up in winter, during the hibernation period, and the protagonist’s difficulties are narrated in that world completely different from the one he knows.

The moomins in cinema, television and theatre

As the fame of the characters progressed, other avenues to expand the universe began to be explored, among which the audiovisual one stands out. The main work was an animated television series, Tales From Moominvalley, based on Jansson’s novels and comics of Japanese, Finnish, and Dutch origin. It consists of 104 chapters of about 20 minutes in length and was distributed worldwide.

Thanks to this series, the fame of the Moomins reached the next level, especially in Japan, and a large number of products with the image of the characters began to be marketed. The growing fame was used by the country to attract a greater number of tourists to Finland, decorating the Helsinki airport and some Finnair company planes with the characters.

In addition to Tales From Moominvalley, other series were developed, films that continued the stories of the main series and even theatre plays.

Museum and theme park

The expansion of the universe concluded with the construction of a theme park, Moomin World in the Finnish city of Naantali. Some of the most important buildings of Tove’s work have been recreated in it, highlighting the Moominhouse.

In addition, the city of Tampere is home to the Moomin Museum. It features the work of Tove Jansson and houses a wealth of original illustrations and hand-carved models. The museum has a shop where you can find a large number of products related to the characters and a reading room that has a complete collection of Jansson’s work in all the languages ​​into which it has been translated.

Did you already know these characters? Tell us what you think about them in the comments. If you found the article interesting, we encourage you to share it on social networks using the icons that you will find just below.

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