The Blagger's Guide To: Tove Jansson

Dark twists, insanity, obsession ... and not a Moomin in sight

The Blagger has just received an advance copy of Tove Jansson's Art in Nature, a collection of short stories that will be published on 6 July by Sort of Books (£7.99). We're told that "the eponymous story is a wonderful one about a caretaker looking after an open-air art exhibition and coming across a couple who have stowed away to camp illegally overnight and bicker about an art piece they've bought. Jansson finds a typically intelligent, wry response to their insecurities about Art. In this ... she'd have got on very well with Grayson Perry".

In other stories, a draughtsman's obsession with drawing locomotives provides a dark twist to a love story, and a cartoonist takes over the work of a colleague who has had a nervous breakdown only to discover his own sanity is in danger. We're told: "Obsession, ambition, and the discouragement of critics are all brought into focus in these wise and cautionary tales."

Jansson wrote five novels and seven collections of short stories for adults, including the semi-autobiographical Bildhuggarens dotter (Sculptor's Daughter). Her classic, bestselling The Summer Book was reissued in 2003 and sold more than 100,000 copies in the UK.

Jansson was born in 1914 in Helsinki, Finland. Her father was a sculptor, her mother a graphic designer. She studied art and design in Helsinki, Stockholm and Paris, and held her first solo exhibition in 1943, before writing the first Moomins book as an antidote to the misery of the Second World War. It was inspired by her uncle, who told the young Tove that a Moomintroll would creep up and breathe its icy breath on her neck if she was naughty. She lived with her partner, the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä (who appears in the stories as the wise woman Too-Ticky), and continued painting and writing until she died in 2001.

Jansson's first Moomin book, published in 1945 by Schildts in Finland, was The Moomins and the Great Flood (Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen), in which readers were introduced to Moomintroll, Moominmamma, Moominpappa and Sniff. The Moomins and the Great Flood will be published for the first time in Britain this October, by Sort of Books. The first Moomin picture book, The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My (Hur gick det sen?), was published in 1952, and has just been released as an app, read by the actor Sam West, a lifelong Moomin fan. Sort of Books also publishes Who Will Comfort Toffle? and The Dangerous Journey, both with new verse translations by the poet Sophie Hannah. Jansson admitted that Moominmamma was based on her mother, and that there were aspects of herself in Moomintroll and Little My.

The Moomin books have remained in print ever since they were first published, and are available in 44 languages. They have been made into animated television series in many countries, and one feature-length film. The 1980s series on British TV used felt puppets, was narrated by the actor Richard Murdoch, and was made by Polish-Austrian animators. The Moomins comic strip appeared in English in the London Evening News from 1954 until 1975. From the late 1950s, they were drawn by Tove Jansson's younger brother Lars, so that she could concentrate on her painting.

Lars's daughter, Sophia, now looks after the Moomin estate, which includes a theme park and sells £370m of Moominmerchandise around the world each year.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas