The Groke, a much-misunderstood creature

The Groke is loneliness personified. She is a cold and solitary creature, who is feared by most residents of Moominvalley...

The ground freezes beneath The Groke, and her icy presence leaves others thinking forlorn thoughts. She seeks warmth and light, but it always eludes her, so her lonely roaming continues.

A rather strange-looking, shapeless grey creature, The Groke has big expressionless eyes above a wide nose and a long row of teeth. She moves slowly but surprisingly gracefully, shuffling along by rippling her skirts. Not much is known about her, as she speaks very little – only crying or growling when unhappy and giving one-word answers when she must – and she tends to disappear when she has been given what she came for. 

Her loneliness might explain why the Groke always tries to draw near warmth and light.”

Almost all the residents of Moominvalley are afraid of the Groke but, at the same time, they sense that she must be very lonely. Perhaps this is what they find so unnerving. Her loneliness might explain why the Groke always tries to draw near warmth and light. Sadly, she is unfailingly disappointed in her attempts to attain these things, as any fire goes cold when she gets too close. 



The Groke first appears in Finn Family Moomintroll (1948), when she follows Thingumy and Bob to the Moominhouse after they steal something precious that belongs to her. 

She also appears in Moominland Midwinter (1957), but she features most prominently in Moominpappa at Sea (1965). It is in this book that Moomintroll develops a special connection with the Groke. At first, he finds her a nuisance, as she scares away the mysterious and elusive sea horses that he is so keen to befriend. But eventually they strike up a companionship of sorts, and he begins to visit her on the beach every night. Even when he arrives without the hurricane lamp, which is what he thought the Groke was most interested in, she rewards him with a song and dance. In fact, it is on this occasion that Moomintroll is pleasantly surprised to find that the ground on which the Groke had stood is not frozen afterwards…  

The Groke quotes:

  • ‘She was not particularly big and didn’t look dangerous either, but you felt that she was terribly evil and would wait for ever. And that was awful.’ (Finn Family Moomintroll, 1948)
  • ‘The Groke sauntered about on the ice, deep in her own thoughts that no-one would ever learn’ (Moominland Midwinter, 1957)
  • ‘She found it slow-going, but somehow she managed. She had time. She had nothing else but time.’ (Moominpappa at Sea, 1965)
  • ‘She came over the water in her cloud of cold like somebody’s bad conscience, and crept up the beach.’ (Moominpappa at Sea, 1965)
  • ‘There’s no other Groke, I’m the only one. I’m the coldest thing that ever was. I am never, never warm.’ (Moominpappa at Sea, 1965)
  • ‘She stared at the lamp and softly shook her big, clumsy head. A freezing white mist hung round her feet as she started to glide towards the light, an enormous, lonely grey shadow.’ (Moominpappa at Sea, 1965)


Snufkin, the wise adventurer

Snufkin is a philosopher and a wanderer who enjoys the simple things in life – fishing, playing his harmonica and walking alone at night.