25 September 2017

Tove Jansson freed herself from the “Moomin style” when illustrating The Hobbit

During her career, Tove Jansson also illustrated books written by other prestigious authors. The two most important of these were illustrated in the 1960s, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In 1959 Tove was also asked to illustrate the Swedish version of Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.

Unique opportunities to illustrate other’s books were interesting projects for Tove and illustrations were stunning and personal like Tove’s illustrations normally were. It was Astrid Lindgren, author of the universally beloved Pippi Longstockings, who as an editor and publisher by the Stockholm publishing house Rabén & Sjögren approached Tove and asked her to illustrate the Swedish edition of The Hobbit.

Tove Jansson found it very important to try to free herself from the “Moomin style”. This led to an attempt to change the way in which she drew. Tove tried different techniques and draw each figure freely again and again 20 – 60 times until she was happy with the result. From the book vignette illustrations, it is impossible to notice how the individual figures are pasted together into ‘a patchwork’ that made up each vignette.

A vignette for J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit by Tove Jansson:
The individual figures and the final version of the illustration

 

The majority of the full-page illustrations follow the characteristic style of Tove’s illustrations for the Moomin books.

The 80th anniversary of the Hobbit

In 2017 we celebrate J. R. R. Tolkien 125th anniversary and the 80th anniversary of The Hobbit. To celebrate this double anniversary, Finnish publisher WSOY has released a new edition of the book in Finnish. The book Hobitti eli Sinne ja takaisin is illustrated by Tove Jansson.

The Hobbit’s 80th Anniversary edition in Finnish includes Jansson’s fabulous illustrations and a cover previously only seen in the Hobbit’s first Finnish edition Lohikäärmevuori. Lohikäärmevuori was published in 1973 by the publisher Kustannusosakeyhtiö Tammi, with the drawings Tove Jansson did for the second edition of the Swedish version Bilbo: en Hobbits Äventyr, 1962.

The 80th-anniversary book by WSOY also includes Brian Sibley’s epilogue about how the illustrations on The Hobbit brought together three literary masters – J. R. R. Tolkien, Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson.