Most people have heard of the little troll family we know as the Moomins and their friends who live in Moominvalley. These odd little white fairytale creatures have attracted quite a following since they were first featured in ‘The Moomins and the Great Flood’ storybook that was published in 1945. They have inspired films, TV shows and lots of different kinds of merchandise – they even have their own store in London’s Covent Garden! But here are some things that even the biggest fan may not know about the Moomins.
Although these adorable creatures are internationally known, they were created by Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson. The original stories (of which there are nine and five additional picture books) were written in Swedish. The first ever Moomin seen in print was in the Finnish magazine, Garm, in 1938 and was part of an anti-war cartoon. This first little Moomin was called Snork and was a little thinner than the adorable Moomintroll we’re all used to today. The Moomin Valley was also inspired by Jansson’s home country of Finland – more specifically the North of Finland, where the Jansson’s summer home was located.
Many of the characters featured in the Moomin stories were in part inspired by people from Tove Jansson’s own life. The adventurous Moominpappa was based on her own father and Too-Ticky, the little pirate themed tomboy, was based on her life partner Tuulikki Pietila. Pietila was also a very highly celebrated graphic designer and worked as a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts In Helsinki. Jansson’s second picture book, Who Will Comfort Toffle? was dedicated to Pietila. There was also an autobiographical character, called Toft, who featured in Moominvalley in November. It is a slightly sad story and was written after her mother passed away in 1970.
Moomins at their peak
During the 1950s, the Moomins became so popular that it was possible to study the subject at Swedish Universities. In 1993, a Moomin World theme park was opened in South West Finland, where you can visit the blueberry-colored Moomin home, the witches cottage and many other notable places from Moominvalley. The park does not have rides, but instead, many different activities and performances. According to the Independent on Sunday, Moomin World was the world’s fourth-best theme park in 2005, and it has also won several awards. There are also plans to open a similar attraction in Japan, where the Moomins are massively popular. The Walt Disney company have offered to buy the Moomin brand on a number of occasions but have always been turned down. There has also been a Moomin opera, several Moomin plays and even a cookbook that was published in 2010. In Tampere, Finland there is also a Moomin museum which has around 2,000 exhibits on display and a gift shop where you can buy the Moomin books in many languages. It was originally in the basement of the city’s library, but it eventually moved to Tampere hall in 2016.
It seems as though there is a lot to explore about these fun-loving white creatures and we are sure many exciting things to come as their popularity continues to grow, more than seventy years after Tove Jansson originally dreamed them up.