Who is Moominmamma based on?

Moominmamma is the nurturing heart of the Moomin family. She knows how to make everyone feel included and often brings everyone together over delicious pancakes. She has a rebellious streak too! Who is Moominmamma based on?

Like any art, the Moomin stories were influenced by real-world events, places and people. Just like the storylines, the characters describe in many ways how Tove Jansson saw the world – and many of them were likely influenced by people in her life.

Moominmamma’s character is one of the most obvious and often talked about reflections of someone close to Tove – her own mother.

The inspiration behind Moominmamma

Moomintroll is sometimes referred to as Tove Jansson’s alter ego, and Moominpappa is said to resemble her father, Viktor “Faffan” Jansson.

Completing the core trio in both the Moomin stories and Tove’s real life, the inspiration behind Moominmamma is said to have been Tove’s mother, Signe “Ham” Hammarsten.

Ham Jansson
Ham Jansson with Tove as a baby

Ham was a master at fluctuating between her creative career and family. She was a successful illustrator and drawer. Among other projects, she designed banknotes for the Bank of Finland and all the Finnish post stamps during 1929-1962.

Though she was much more active outside the home than Moominmamma, they both had a rebellious streak and “escaped” traditional responsibility through creativity – in Moominpappa at Sea (1965), the frustrated Moominmamma discovers her love and skill for painting.

Moominmamma inspiration


Tove’s brother Per Olov Jansson and her niece Sophia Jansson have both said they can vividly see Ham in Moominmamma’s character.

Per Olov says in Helen Svensson‘s book Resa med Tove: “My mother Ham taught me how to navigate by the wind, the clouds, the anthills and the moss on the trunks. She often skied after me, forgave me all the naughtiness and glowed peaceful and confident warmth, just like Moominmamma.”

A farewell through the final Moomin novel

The final Moomin novel, Moominvalley in November, was published in 1970, the same year that Ham died. The last novel is surprisingly void of Moomins; a story of endings and goodbyes.

According to Boel Westin’s autobiography of Tove Jansson, Ham’s creativity and somewhat professional symbiosis with Tove had a great influence on the Moomin stories overall, and the last novel was a farewell to the entire fictional world they experienced together.

Get to know Ham’s story in more detail here.

Which Moomin character are you?

Do you see some Moominmamma in yourself? Or perhaps there are familiar qualities in many of the characters? Take the Moomin character quiz and find out!


Who is Snufkin based on?

Who is Snufkin based on? Find out who inspired Tove Jansson to create the outdoorsy, philosophical character of Snufkin.