Tove Jansson’s letters to readers – Submit yours!

For decades, Tove Jansson received around 2,000 letters a year from all over the world, and strived to reply to each one. Most of the letters were from children or young readers. They commented, for example, on the characters in Moominvalley, especially those with whom they identified. 

Many wrote about their desire to become writers and asked for advice from Tove, a role model they admired. Many also wrote about difficulties in their own lives, such as illness, the death of a parent, or loneliness. 

Submit your reply letter from Tove Jansson

Art historian and writer Tuula Karjalainen, who has written a biography of Tove Jansson, is working on a new book about correspondence between Tove Jansson and children and young people around the world – a dialogue that was full of love and respect. 

Tove kept every letter she received, but her reply letters are with the recipients – some probably preserved. Tuula Karjalainen hopes to find as many letters of reply as possible to illustrate the beautiful dialogue.

If you have a letter you received from Tove Jansson, Karjalainen would be grateful if you contacted her by email at and attached a picture of the letter if possible. You can also contact her by post at Tuula Karjalainen, Sepänkatu 11 a 9 00150 Helsinki, Finland.

In addition to the Tove Jansson biography, Karjalainen has written several articles about Tove’s life and work and curated a major exhibition of Tove’s art that has toured internationally in several countries. 

Letters from Tove

Here is’s existing collection of personal letters and postcards between Tove Jansson and various people, who have sent their copies for the Moomin community to enjoy.

In the different pieces of correspondence, Tove talks about her cat Psipsina, life in Klovharun, the Moominhouse she built together with Tuulikki Pietilä and Pentti Eistola, and more.

  1. “I’m so glad you like my trolls”
  2. “I’m so glad to know you like my stories”
  3. “It has been so worthwhile, all of it”
  4. “A little like sitting in a tree and looking at people below”
  5. “The other night I really saw a comet”
  6. “It looks rather forbidding but it’s full of wildflowers”
  7. “I have a funny feeling that now, maybe, I am going to write again”

Letters from Tove – “I’m so glad you like my trolls”

Here is a 1968 letter from Tove to Emeritus Professor Trudy Harpham in the UK. In it, Tove mentions a family of Atelier Fauni Moomintrolls.

You can find the transcript and Trudy’s words about the letter below.  Thank you, Trudy, for sharing your letter!

Letter tove jansson



Dated 1 November 1968

Dear Trudy Harpham,

Thank you so very much for your nice letter and the really lovely photograph of my family which I’ve put on the wall over the working table.

I’m so glad you like my trolls. What difficulties your father had to get moominmamma for your collection! Now these models aren’t made in Finland anymore, but if you want a Fillyjonk sometime I think they are for sale in England. My publisher Ernest Benn Ltd. Bouverie House, Fleet Street, London EC4 will certainly know where to get the whole lot.

I do wish you a happy autumn!

Good luck to you!

Tove Jansson

Trudy’s own thoughts on her letter to Tove:

Desperate Dash for Moominmamma!

In 1966 my parents took me on holiday on a Russian cruise ship around the Baltic sea. For a ten year old, rural, English girl this was a memorable adventure and I realised that we would visit the country of my beloved Moomins. (I had been hooked since I had borrowed Moomintroll Midwinter from my school’s library). When we reached Helsinki we visited the large department store Stockmann, which sold the 1950s Atelier Fauni Moomin models. My loving parents told me I could choose three models and after difficult deliberation I selected Moomintroll, the Snork Maiden and Moominpappa. When we returned to the cruise ship I realised my little Moomin family felt so incomplete without Moominmamma and begged my father to rush back to the shop and get her. In doing so my kind Pappa nearly missed the departure of our ship and this is the story I told Tove when I wrote to her a couple of years later and sent her a picture of my little family. I also asked her where I might get a Fillyjonk.

I attach a more recent picture of my Fauni family – how Moominmamma could have lost her handbag in the intervening years I will never know. And I still yearn for a Fauni Fillyjonk….

Trudy Harpham PhD

Letters from Tove – “I’m so glad to know you like my stories”

Here are two letters shared by Faber novelist and short story writer Ruth Thomas. The letter first appeared on Faber’s blog ‘The Thought Fox’.

You can find the transcript and Ruth’s comments on the letters below.

Moomins-Letter1Transcript (letter 1)

Dated: February 1975

Dear Ruth,

I’m so glad to know that you like my stories, and I do promise trying to invent new ones.

Thank you warmly for this illustrated tale about northhumberland and the Patterncat. I am really proud of the dedication. You should continue writing about this fantastic blue-headed cat!

Mine in Finland is all black, called Psipsina, which means ‘cat’ in greech (greek?)

Wishing you a happy spring,




Transcript (letter 2)

Dated: October 1977

Dear Ruth,

Congratulations to your story in Puffin Post! and good luck for the future. I am so very glad that you like my Summer Book. The grandmother is a picture of my mother.

Tooticki is giving you her best wishes – here is her drawing of Psipsina! —>

Lots of love, Tove

Ruth’s own thoughts on her letter to Tove:

I don’t remember what I wrote in my first letter to Tove, and I don’t think I ever expected a reply – the image I had of Tove and her island was still too misty and Scandinavian to have anything to do with the GPO. But then one afternoon – winter by now – I came home from school and there was an envelope lying on my pillow. It was a very particular envelope, pure white and fine-papered, and larger than the Basildon Bond ones my mother used. And there was my name on it! – and my address! And there was a stamp from Finland.

I opened it – very carefully – with a butter-knife.

Over the next three years we wrote to each other four times. Which goes to show how extremely kind she was to the children who read her books. She sent one letter – unbelievably exotic! – from Paris, where she was on holiday with Tooticki. Another mentioned her latest book, The Summer Book – ‘… The grandmother is a picture of my mother…’ Her writing was beautiful, sloping, in black ink, and she always included drawings of Moomins.

Tove’s last letter to me (which I’ve framed and placed – sensibly, in a grown-up way – on my bedroom wall) was inside a card she’d screen-printed. It depicted the Snork Maiden standing in a shallow sea.

Happy Spring to you! she wrote. Which is a phrase I still think of every Springtime. And still reminds me of being seven, and tiptoeing up to my dad’s studio.

Ruth Thomas

Tove Jansson and her cat Psipsina

Tove Jansson and Psipsina


Letters from Tove – “It has been so worthwhile, all of it”

Here is a letter from author and illustrator James Mayhew.

You can find the transcript and James’ own thoughts below.

tove jansson letter

tove 2


Dated: 8 January 1993

Dear James Mayhew

Your illustrations are fantastic, absolutely free and full of fun and beauty. I enjoyed having your books.

And your letter means a lot to me, it came one of those days when I felt fed up with myself and the whole commercial Moomin business (they call it boom here) – and suddenly I got wholly convinced it has been worth while – all of it.

Even if I can’t return to that valley of mine or find new ways – after all it has been a big adventure – and the things you say about these stories having given joy.

Your flowers are really a bit too beautiful, but I accept them shamelessly!


Tove J.

James’ own thoughts on his letter to Tove:

In 1992 I had a book published in Finnish. Although Tove Jansson was a Swedish-speaking Finn, I felt excited and honoured to have a book published in “the land of the Moomins”. I had for a long time wanted to write to her. But I had no address, and what would I write? 

Suddenly, this seemed the exact moment to do such a thing. I wrote a long, rhapsodic letter to her, describing my Moomin-filled childhood, my admiration of her art… everything! I drew a Moomin on the parcel and addressed it simply: To Tove Jansson, Helsinki, Finland.

With the letter, I enclosed the Finnish edition of my book (“Madame Nightingale will sing Tonight”) and some other books. And it wasn’t written or sent to expect a reply. It was sent with gratitude and admiration. A sort of gift. And afterwards, I just forgot about it.

Then, one quiet unassuming January day, a letter arrived. The carefully crafted handwriting, should have raised my expectations. Then I saw the stamps… Moomin stamps.

Inside was a letter from the great lady herself, with kind words about my illustrations (can you imagine how much that meant to a novice artist like myself?), and what seemed to be genuine gratitude and humility regarding my words about the Moomins. She seemed touched that my world had been coloured by her Moominvalley, and that their morals and eccentricities had reflected the foibles of myself and my family. 

It would no doubt have amused her to know how I cherished the letter and how special it felt to have what seemed like a tiny part of her. I was overwhelmed that she should have replied at all, when she must have received hundreds of letters. But all writing is a generous act of sharing. She gave the whole world a part of her with all her books and pictures.

I keep the letter inside a first edition of Finn Family Moomintroll and I look at it and read it much as Moomintroll rereads Snufkin’s letter in Moominland Midwinter. It never fails to inspire me to keep going, to keep on making books and creating.

Tove was one of the great observers and recorders of human life. She would have understood me just as she understood Sniff and his avarice every bit as well as she understood Snufkin and his solitude. For in the Moomins, these strange and melancholic trolls, we see ourselves, our lives, our families and our fears. And that is what makes them the work of a genius. 

James Mayhew

Letters from Tove – “A little like sitting in a tree and looking at people below”

Here is a 1987 letter from Veera Gyllenborg in Sweden; she had a burning question and Tove Jansson promptly answered on a Unicef postcard.

You can find the transcript and Veera’s story about the letter below.

brev Tove in


brev Tove fram


Dated April 1987

Hi Veera,

Thank you for your letter and greetings to the Groke, it it probably the first time she got a poem of her own!

Sure, it was fun to sleep on a sleeping shelf, a little like sitting in a tree and looking at people below, you sort of felt superior. And to finally have a place you could call your own!

Wishing you a nice spring – a big hug – Tove

Veera’s own thoughts on her letter to Tove:

I was an early Tove-fan and during Christmas in 1986 I got a book called “Möte med Tove Jansson / Meeting Tove Jansson” (by Tordis Örjasäter), where Tove talked about how she as a child had slept on a sleeping shelf that her father had crafted high on a wall in the art studio.

I wrote to Tove in April 1987 when I was nine years old. It was with great hesitation that I wrote to her, since I had read that Tove spent a great deal of time answering the letters she got, taking up a lot of her personal time.

Finally I wrote to her as I was very curious about what it was like to sleep on a sleeping shelf. And Tove answered.

My letter from Tove is one of my most precious items, and perhaps it shows from the numerous thumbtack marks on the postcard where I pinned it to my wall.

Veera Gyllenborg

Letters from Tove – “The other night I really saw a comet”

Here is a letter from Jonathan Marks, who wrote to Tove after reading Comet in Moominland (1946). His letter was sent together with a small exhibition book, Mumintrollet i Hvitträsk 1974, which was one of the first exhibitions featuring Moomin artwork in Finland.

You can find the transcript and Jonathan’s own thoughts below.

Muumi Hvitträskissä Moomin at Hvitträsk Tove Jansson letter to Jonathan Marks


For Jonathan

Can you imagine, the other night I really saw a comet, out on my island – it was red. I’m glad to know that you like that story of mine, it means a lot to me.

A drawing of Klovharun.

(The island, the very last one in the Gulf of Finland)

I do wish you an adventurous summer!

♥ Tove J.

Jonathan’s own thoughts on his letter to Tove:

This is the inscription that Tove sent me, inside a thin paperback book full of Moomin pictures and quotes from the books.

I wrote to her after I read Comet in Moominland….which I found dark and exciting.

I discovered the story in our school library when I was about 8 years old (around 1979) and was amazed that I got a reply. I didn’t even know if Tove was a man or a woman when I wrote to her! (not being familiar with Finnish names).

I have treasured the book ever since.

Jonathan Marks

Letters from Tove – “It looks rather forbidding but it’s full of wildflowers”

Here is a 1977 letter from the American author and artist Steve Richter. In the letter, Tove describes her experiences on her beloved island Klovharun, where she spent most of her summers.

You can find the transcript and Steve’s memories of the letter below.

Tove Jansson letter to Stephen Richter


Dated: September 1977

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your letter! I am so very glad to know that you really like my stories! Here is the island where I live five months a year, it looks rather forbidding but is full of wild flowers. You should see the storms out there in the middle of the Finnish Gulf – Splendid. The signal mast blew down last spring. Now I am in town again and miss the loneliness. I do wish you a fine autumn!

Tove Jansson

Steve’s own thoughts on his letter to Tove:

This is my letter from Tove Jansson, Finnish artist, cartoonist, novelist, and story-teller. I have been (and still am) influenced by her stories and illustrations since I first discovered her books. I wrote her a letter in 1978 (1977?) and she wrote me back. I’ve kept her letter for over 35 years.

I have read and re-read most of her books (I’m told there are a few yet I haven’t discovered!!). I have kept all of her Moomin books, and recently read each of them aloud to my wife, who had not previously heard of Tove Jansson.

Stephen Richter

Letters from Tove – “I have a funny feeling that now, maybe, I am going to write again”

Here are copies of correspondence between Ross Jarrett and Tove in the early 1990s. The letters also show the variety of Tove’s artwork. In one of her replies, Tove references Moominvalley and the Moominhouse she built with Tuulikki Pietilä and Pentti Eistola.

You can find the transcripts and Ross’ own thoughts on these personal treasures below.

Tove Jansson postcard front and back Tove Jansson letters to Ross Jarrett

Tove Jansson envelope small

Tove Jansson letters to Ross Jarrett

All Moomin books in one image


Transcript (letter)

Dated: 29 September 1992

Dear Ross,

Thank you for your letter.

It interests me very much that you are making a model of Moominvalley. So did we; the friends Tooticky, Pentti and I  – a big job and an even bigger fun.

I send you a catalogue from the museum which got our result as a present when it was finished and we had not, unfortunately, time for playing anymore. Those evenings of planning and building were happy – and we do wish you the very same thing!


Tove Jansson

Transcript (postcard)

Dated: 7 January 1993

Dear Ross,

as you want me to autograph my stories, I think the easiest way would be to glue these somewhere in the beginning of the books.

You see, my eyes are terribly old, and this way I needn’t wander to the post office to get your parcel – and back again to send the books off.


Love – Tove

Transcript (the illustrated card)

Dated: 29 October 1993

Dear Ross!

Thank you so very much for the gold plated pen – it is beautiful!!

And the inscription makes it personal – my very own. I have a funny feeling that now, maybe, I’m going to write again…

May the winter be nice to you – a big hug –


Steve’s own thoughts on his correspondence with Tove:

I first wrote to Tove in 1992 after reading the complete series back to back through the winter. I wrote via the publishers and told her that I was going to build a model of the Moomin house with my father. Some time passed and then one morning a parcel came through the post with Finnish stamps on it! Inside was a letter from Tove and a brochure/book from the Museum which Tove donated her own model of the Moomin house too. She also signed the book which was nice.

The parcel had a return address on it so I wrote back to her to thank her for the kind gift and asked if she would sign my books if I posted them to her (I was 13 and had no idea of the cost or logistics of this haha!). She responded by posting a postcard inside a letter telling me that her legs were too old to walk to the post office so instead sent me signed labels to put in my books, all of which had different messages on. I still can’t to this day believe that she had taken so much time and effort to respond to me in this way. I responded again, sending her this time a pen with an engraving which read ‘to Tove love Ross’ to thank her for her kindness and for taking the time to respond to me.

Her third response was a letter on Moomin paper which on which she thanks me for the pen and says she may even write again which I thought was brilliant and still do! She also enclosed a book of Moomin stamps which she also signed. I know that there are lots of Tove letters and signed bits but to me these items are priceless and I’ll always cherish them.

It’s only now that I am discovering more about Tove and what an amazing woman, artist and writer she was and still is. I now have a small son, Fynn who is 6 months old, and I cant wait for him to be old enough for me to introduce him to the Moomin world!

Ross Jarrett