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A compendium of queer people in the 19th and 20th centuries // Drawn and researched by Michele Rosenthal

Tove  Jansson

Tove Jansson 1914to –2001

Finnish children’s writer, comic artist, and novelist, best known as the creator of the Moomin characters and books. Her parents, part of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, were both artists, and encouraged her to study art at school. She found work as an illustrator for various publications, and had her first solo painting exhibit in 1943. The Moomin characters appeared in 1945 in her children’s book The Moomins and the Great Flood, about a family of strange round creatures who are faced with catastrophe in their peaceful village. Her next two books, Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll, brought her international popularity, and led to a weekly comic strip in a London newspaper, which was later carried on by her younger brother. For her work she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1966. She had had a few relationships with men, and a short but passionate affair with a married actress, but in the 1950s she met her life partner, the artist Tuulikki Pietilä, who would inspire the Moomin character Too-Ticky. Same-sex relationships were still outlawed in Finland at the time, but Jansson’s open-minded family and friends were accepting. The two of them lived in separate side-by-side studios with a connecting attic, collaborated on work, and spent summers together in a cottage on an island. Jansson eventually said goodbye to the Moomins, focusing instead on painting, writing adult fiction, and traveling the world with Pietilä. The Moomins have since lived on in films, television, theater, and a theme park in Finland.

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