The cat is well and truly out of the bag now. As revealed on the Moomin website, I will be doing a reading of Villain in the Moominhouse at the ArchWay With Words Literary Festival on 25th September in Archway, North London. Never heard of the story? That may not be surprising. This final Moomin tale was penned by Tove Jansson in 1980 and only published in Swedish. A Finnish translation followed a while later, but the book was never translated to English and hence an English-language version was never published.


That’s finally set to change. I’ll be reading my original translation for the first time at the festival, accompanied by projections of the images from the books. Rather than illustrate it by hand, Tove called in the services of her brother, Per Olov Jansson, who took photographs of the many scenes in the story. They staged these in the gigantic Moominhouse that Tove and her partner Tuulikki Pietila built by hand, along with figurines representing the Moomins and their many friends. This incredible construction is now on display in the Moomin Museum in Tampere, Finland, and really has to be seen to be believed.


But there’s more. At the same event I will also be reading two of Tove’s very earliest published stories: Prickina and Fabian’s Adventure, and Sara and Pelle and Neptune’s Children.


Prickina and Fabian was published in 1929, and was serialised over seven issues of Lunkentus magazine. It told the story of two caterpillars who fell in love and went off in search of a new home, having many strange adventures along the way. Sara and Pelle predates even this. This tale of two friends whose ride on a home-made car takes them to an undersea kingdom was actually written even earlier, but not published until 1933, and then under the pseudonym Vera Haij. At this point in her life, Tove Jansson was writing for Garm, a very grown-up satirical magazine, and it made sense to keep her children’s writing separate.


Again, this marks the English-language debut for both of these stories and in fact, neither have had much visibility in either Sweden or Finland since their publication.


The event is free so if you’re in the vicinity, come on by and immerse yourself in some Tove Jansson rarities.