I gave a talk the other week at the Anglo-Finnish Society in London, based on my recent paper. It covered a lot of the same ground, exploring the origins of Tove’s cartoon work and how her own creations developed. But it was also an opportunity to introduce some other bits and bobs, some of which had been rarely seen. These included the image above, one of the promotional pictures that Tove drew to publicise Moomintroll and the End of the World, the first ever Moomin strip that ran in Ny Tid. I also had a chance to show the cover of Skatten på Tortuga, Lar’s Jansson’s first novel. This was created by their mother, Signe Hammerstan-Jansson, and hasn’t been shown in this country before. I’ll go over that and its translation in a future post.

The other book getting its premiere was The Princess Who Never Laughed. Signe (or ‘Ham’) wrote and illustrated her version of this Russian folk tale, and the book was published in 1923. Again, more on that later…

Of course Moomin took front and centre stage, and it was particularly fun to be able to show the first ever Moomin. Following a legendary argument with her brother, Tove ran to the outhouse and scrawled the most hideous creature she could imagine and called it Snork. Snork of course would appear in Garm much later on, before evolving into Moomintroll. But as we can see from this rare image, Tove’s original creation was far removed from the rotund character we came to know and love.

An interesting point here is that while most of the surrounding text is written in Swedish – the Jansson’s were Swedish speakers after all – the line at the bottom is written in Finnish.