The Books of Moomin

Tove Jansson and her characters

What is a Moomin? They are the central characters in a series of books and a comic strip by Tove Jansson (1914-2001). Jansson was a Finnish-Swedish writer and artist, who achieved worldwide fame as the creator of the stories about the Moomins, written and illustrated between 1945 and 1977. You can read more about Tove on her webpage.

The Moomin family and their friends live an adventurous life in the idyllic and peaceful Moominvalley in harmony with nature. They are a family of white, round fairy tale characters with large snouts that make them resemble hippopotamuses. The carefree and adventurous family live in their house in Moominvalley, though in the past, their temporary residences have included a lighthouse and a theatre. They have had many adventures along with their various friends.

In all, nine books were released in the series, together with five picture books and a comic strip being released between 1945 and 1993.

The main characters are:

Moomintroll also referred to as “Moomin” is the little boy of the family, interested in and excited about everything he sees and finds, always trying to be good, but sometimes getting into trouble while doing so, he is very brave and always finds a way to make his friends happy.

Moominpappa is the father of the family, but boyish and adventurous. He likes to be present when something unusual happens. He is philosophical at times and likes writing his memoirs.

Moominmamma is the calm mother, who takes care that Moominhouse is a safe place to be. She wants everyone to be happy, appreciates individuality, but settles things when someone is wronged. She always brings good food as well as whatever else may be necessary on a journey in her handbag.

The Hemulens are creatures that believe in order and like to boss other people around, but find it difficult to listen to anyone and lack a sense of humor. Many hemulens like collecting stuff, and have little time to think about much else.

Sniff is a creature who lives in the Moomin house. He likes to take part in everything, but is afraid to do anything dangerous. Sniff appreciates all valuables and makes many plans to get rich, but does not succeed.

Snork Maiden is Moomin’s girlfriend. She is happy and energetic, but often suddenly changes her mind on things. She loves nice clothes and jewelry and is a little flirtatious.

You can get a quick introduction to the Moomins in the first episode of their cartoon series:

In future blog posts we will have more about the Moomins but this is part of the history behind this family. You can read a full history here.

1945 Söderström & Co publishes the first Moomin story – The Moomins and the Great Flood – in Swedish. It is the story about Moominmamma’s and Moomintroll’s search for the missing Moominpappa and how they found their way to the Moominvalley.

1954 The world’s largest newspaper – London’s The Evening News – starts to publish the Moomin comic strip. The strip reaches up to 20 million readers daily in over 40 countries. It continues until 1974. From 1960, Tove’s brother Lars Jansson draws the strip. The first Moomin products come onto the market.

1969 Fuji TV Zuiyo Enterprises produces an animated Moomin series in Japan and the Moomins become very popular there.

1970 The last Moomin story – Moominvalley in November – is published. Tove decides to stop writing Moomin books, but continues to write for adults. She publishes The Summer Book.

1987 Moominvalley opens at the Tampere Art Museum.

1990 Telecable produces 104 half-hour Moomin animations. The series is sold to over 60 countries.

1993 The theme park Moominworld opens its doors in Naantali, Finland. Moomin licensing steps up and many new Moomin products hit the market.

2001 Tove Jansson passes away on June 27th.

Ingebretsen’s carries many of the Moomin books and products in our store and online. You can find some of them here.

You can also print out for free Moomin coloring book pages here.

 

Mary Hirsch

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