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Memoirs set on Klovharun in the Gulf of Finland

23rd May 2024

Notes From An Island by Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä, memoirs set on Klovharun in the Gulf of Finland (1960s)

TR: Thomas Teal

Memoirs set on Klovharun in the Gulf of Finland

Memoirs set on Klovharun in the Gulf of FinlandTove Jansson is probably best known as the creator of the Moomins, a family of trolls, who are white, round fairy-tale characters with large snouts resembling the hippopotamus. There are nine books in the series, created between 1945 and 1993, together with five picture books and a comic strip. She also wrote several novels for adults.

(And, yes, that is the Moomin Shop in London’s Covent Garden to the left)

This is a small and beautifully produced book, with French Flaps and quality images of the copperplate etchings and drawings created by her partner and co-resident on the island, Tuulikki Pietilä (Tooti). It is a brief and powerful record of the time the two women chose to spend 26 Summers on the rocky and virtually barren island of Klovharun, on the edge of the Pellinge archipelago.

Mother, Ham, sometimes joined them with her cat in tow and somehow it all seemed to work, creatively spurred on by the shifting landscape that they could experience both from their dwelling (which had a window on each of the four sides) and in the rugged landscape. Theirs was a life of solitude, creativity and reflection, where loneliness didn’t seem to feature.

Hats off to the duo for really engaging with their chosen, off-grid life. The book offers snatches of the process of getting established on the island, together with experiences and thoughts as they battle and relish the challenges that beset them.

Tove’s acclaimed 1961 essay/prose poem, The Island, is included in the latest edition of the book.

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