A Strange Journey: Tove Jansson and The Moomins

moomin book by Tove Jansson

The Moomins (Mumintroll in Swedish) were the most famous creation of Finnish-Swedish author and artist Tove Jannson. Though this beloved creator wrote and illustrated many other works for both children and adults, the names of Tove Jansson and The Moomins will be forever linked.

The family of round, white fairytale creatures — which resemble hippopotamuses first appeared in 1946, and were the central characters in a total of nine novels, four picture books, and a comic strip that ran for more than twenty years.

Although Tove was a prolific illustrator, painter, and writer for adults, the Moomins are her enduring legacy, beloved across Finland and the world, and still hugely popular today. Read More→

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (1928)

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall 1928 - cover

Since its first appearance in 1928, The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (1880 – 1943) has spurred much discussion and controversy. The semi-autobiographical novel about a young woman’s coming to terms with her lesbian identity, and perhaps more to the point, her maleness, caused a furor when first published in England.

Once denounced as immoral, it has also been praised as a courageous work of literature. It shocked some members “proper” society and served as an awakening to others who felt isolated by repressive social mores. 

The Well of Loneliness is a semi-autobiographical story of Radclyffe Hall’s own life. Shockingly candid for its time, this novel was the very first to condemn homophobic society. Read More→

Body of this Death: Poems by Louise Bogan (1923) – full text

poet Louise Bogan - young

Louise Bogan (1897 – 1970) has largely fallen off the radar when it comes to American poetry of the 20th century, yet in her time she was one of the most lauded poets of her generation. Presented here is the full text of her first published book of poems, Body of this Death (1923).

The title is derived from the quote, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” from the King James Bible.

Bogan’s poetry was praised by her contemporaries for its spare, restrained style. Much of her expression and subject matter was derived from her personal life (which wasn’t an easy one), yet her subtlety prevented her poems from becoming confessional. Read More→

Louise Bogan, Award-Winning 20th-Century Poet

Louise Bogan, poet laureate

Louise Bogan (August 11, 1897 – February 4, 1970) was a multi-award-winning American poet, essayist, and literary critic. Born in Livermore Falls, Maine, and educated in Boston, Massachusetts, she overcame numerous challenges throughout her life.

Her poetry is acclaimed for its subtlety, restraint, masterful use of crossed rhythms, economy of words, and use of lyrical forms. Many of her works explore the contradictions of the heart and mind.

Rising above childhood difficulties, divorce, and depression, she went on be selected as the fourth Poetry Laureate by the Library of Congress in 1945, the first woman to hold this position.

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Lynch Law in All its Phases, 1892 Speech by Ida B. Wells (excerpt)

Southern Horrors by Ida B. Wells

This portion of “Lynch Law in All its Phases,” Ida B. Wells’ 1892 speech given in Boston, is excerpted from Speaking While Female: 75 Extraordinary Speeches by American Women by Dana Rubin. Amplify Publishing Group, 2023.

From the publisher:

“This monumental collection of speeches charts the story of America as it unfolded through the decades, showing that at every critical juncture, women were speaking. It’s a long-needed corrective to the story we have always told ourselves about whose ideas and voices shaped the nation—a search for long-buried truths, a celebration, and an inspiration.” Read More→

Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomins

Tove Jansson, Finnish author

Tove Jansson (August 9, 1914 – June 27, 2001) was a Swedish-speaking Finnish author, illustrator, and painter, active as a writer and artist for more than seventy years.

Her most famous creations, The Moomins, first appeared in 1945. The adventures and philosophical musings of Moomintroll and his family are still popular today.

She also produced paintings, short stories, novels, other children’s books, political cartoons, magazine covers, theatre sets, public murals, and much more. Read More→

The Transgressive Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle

Lady Margaret Cavendish

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623 – 1673) was a British poet, philosopher, scientist, and fiction writer. Like some of her predecessors, the eccentric Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish wrote for an exclusively female audience and was angry at men:

Men are so Unconscionable and Cruel against us, as they Endeavour to Bar us of all Sorts or Kinds of Liberty, as not to Suffer us Freely to Associate amongst our Own Sex, but would fain Bury us in their Houses or Beds, as in a Grave; the truth is, we Live like Bats or Owls, Labour like Beasts, and Die like Worms. (To All Noble and Worthy Ladies)

This essay is excerpted from Killing the Angel: Early British Transgressive Women Writers ©2021 by Francis Booth. Reprinted by permission. Read More→

Paule Marshall, author of Brown Girl, Brownstones

Paule Marshall

Paule Marshall (April 9, 1929–August 12, 2019), born Valenza Pauline Burke, was a Brooklyn-born and raised writer of Barbadian, or Bajan, heritage.

Best known for her first novel, Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), her subsequent novels and stories touch on cultural and ancestral themes relating to the Caribbean.

Both of her parents came to the United States from Barbados, and she incorporated the experiences of West Indian immigrants as well as the social and political perspectives of college-educated Black Americans into her novels and short stories.  Read More→