Letters from Tove

A must read for any Tove and Moomin fan: An intimate, captivating collection of correspondence becomes a unique presentation of Tove Jansson’s artistry. These personal letters are a new and inspiring way to get to know the real Tove.

Tove Jansson was known for answering letters she received from Moomin fans around the world. Out of the thousands of handwritten letters Tove wrote, a cache remains that she addressed to her nearest and dearest including her family, closest friends, lovers and literary colleagues. On these pages, she shared her innermost thoughts, defended her ideals and revealed her heart.

Penned with charm and humour, Letters from Tove offers an almost seamless commentary on Tove Jansson’s life as it unfolds within Finland’s capital Helsinki’s bohemian circles and her dear island home Klovharu. The letters span six decades from the 1930’s to the 1980’s, from her art studies, through the height of Moomin fame, to her travels later in life with her partner, Tuulikki Pietilä. By reading them one shares her adventures as an art student in Stockholm and Paris, the bleakness of war, her hopes for love that were dashed and renewed, and her determined attempts to establish herself as an artist.

The collection includes letters Tove Jansson herself kept and archived. This revealing yet sensitively compiled title is commented by Boel Westin and Helen Svensson, who both are experts on Tove Jansson’s art and lifework and were also close friends of the author.

Vivid, inspiring and shining with integrity, Letters from Tove shows how an aspiring and courageous young artist can evolve into a one of a kind. The skilfully crafted letters are like beautiful short stories – but this time about Tove herself and her own life, in her own voice. The chance to read these letters is both an act of startling intimacy and a rare privilege.

A must read for any Tove and Moomin fan: An intimate, captivating collection of correspondence becomes a unique presentation of Tove Jansson’s artistry. These personal letters are a new and inspiring way to get to know the real Tove.

Tove Jansson was known for answering letters she received from Moomin fans around the world. Out of the thousands of handwritten letters Tove wrote, a cache remains that she addressed to her nearest and dearest including her family, closest friends, lovers and literary colleagues. On these pages, she shared her innermost thoughts, defended her ideals and revealed her heart.

Penned with charm and humour, Letters from Tove offers an almost seamless commentary on Tove Jansson’s life as it unfolds within Finland’s capital Helsinki’s bohemian circles and her dear island home Klovharu. The letters span six decades from the 1930’s to the 1980’s, from her art studies, through the height of Moomin fame, to her travels later in life with her partner, Tuulikki Pietilä. By reading them one shares her adventures as an art student in Stockholm and Paris, the bleakness of war, her hopes for love that were dashed and renewed, and her determined attempts to establish herself as an artist.

The collection includes letters Tove Jansson herself kept and archived. This revealing yet sensitively compiled title is commented by Boel Westin and Helen Svensson, who both are experts on Tove Jansson’s art and lifework and were also close friends of the author.

Vivid, inspiring and shining with integrity, Letters from Tove shows how an aspiring and courageous young artist can evolve into a one of a kind. The skilfully crafted letters are like beautiful short stories – but this time about Tove herself and her own life, in her own voice. The chance to read these letters is both an act of startling intimacy and a rare privilege.

Reviews

  • Anna Carey, The Irish Times

    "Letters From Tove, a wonderful collection of letters written by the Finnish artist and writer Tove Jansson is full of such examples of casual brilliance and beauty; Sarah Death’s seemingly effortless translation preserves the clear-eyed grace and humour that was a hallmark of Jansson’s writing, from her beloved Moomins stories to her adult fiction ... Although just a little more biographical detail might have been helpful at times...the book is remarkably coherent, with the overlapping correspondences offering a rounded picture of Jansson’s life and relationships ... The book also offers a fascinating and often moving glimpse into the world of queer women in mid-century Finland ... This collection presents us with that bouquet in all its vivid freshness, and offers readers the privilege of spending time inside an intelligent, creative, curious, generous, funny, unsentimental mind. Few books have given me as much pure pleasure this year."

  • Sarah Harrison, The Wall Street Journal

    "...reveals Jansson as a complex, passionate and exceptionally hardworking artist. You may even come away agreeing with Philip Pullman’s assessment that she is a genius, though not all geniuses would be such good company over nearly 500 pages. Sarah Death, who translated the letters from the Swedish, gives Jansson a casual voice that makes her already forthright manner especially appealing ... Readers who come to the letters without prior knowledge of Jansson’s life and circle will find they are charmed but sometimes frustrated by this volume, which is slight on notes and arranged in a less than intuitive way ... Though relationship drama makes for fun reading, Jansson’s letters amount to something more significant and rare: a brilliant artist’s account of her life, written in real time."

  • Publisher's Weekly

    "This spirited collection of letters by Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson...best known for the 'Moomin' children’s books and comics, brims with affection, humor, and artistry ... Delightfully, she also sometimes adds illustrations, including of her famous hippo-like creations, the Moomins. Jansson’s fans will particularly enjoy discovering which characters had real-life inspirations. However, all readers should find her a delight to spend time with."

  • Philip Pullman

    "Tove Jansson was a genius, a woman of profound wisdom and great artistry."

  • Ali Smith

    "Her tales of Moominvalley are really only half the story of Jansson's quiet creative genius...her novels, short story collections and memoir writing form an equally shining achievement."

  • Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

    "A unique and authentic voice that speaks to the reader across time and culture, heart to heart."

  • Sir Terry Pratchett

    "Tove Jansson is one of the greatest children's writers there has ever been."

  • The Observer

    "There are treasures aplenty – cultural history gems as well as biographical revelations, all related in a voice that’s funny, gracious, intimate."

  • Jenni Råback, Asymptote

    "...Emphatic and physical, simultaneously whimsical and solemn, and full of chat...Tove’s dialogic imagination allows her to create intimacy in her letters by summons that feel both physical and fantastic...Most significantly, though, the letters complement Tove’s individual books and even her characters, as in the way that her romance with Vivica coexists with Thingumy and Bob, whose Swedish names are Tofslan and Vifslan..."

  • De Morgen

    "Amidst awe-inspiring landscapes touching conversations develop between the two generations. With this beautiful story a new Astrid Lindgren has stood up."

  • NRC Handelsblad

    "In her republished Summerbook Tove Jansson, one of the greatest children’s literature writers from Scandinavia depicts the tight bond between a grandmother and her grandchild. These are lessons in developing and maintaining a lust for life." *****

  • Humo

    "Her evergreen Summerbook inspires a longing for more innocent times. In her stories about a young girl and her grandmother, she sketches sparse visions of life on an untouched island. Jansson took the time to return to nature and saw what we can learn from the transience and the imperturbability of its rugged beauty." ****

Quote

“Wherever I go on the island, you’re with me as my security and stimulation, your happiness and vitality are still here, everywhere. And if I left here, you would go with me. You see, I love you as if bewitched, yet at the same time with profound calm, and I’m not afraid of anything life has in store for us.”

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Authors

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