tue 24/09/2019

The World Of Moominvalley, Brighton Festival review - a fascinating insight into the world of Tove Jansson | reviews, news & interviews

The World Of Moominvalley, Brighton Festival review - a fascinating insight into the world of Tove Jansson

The World Of Moominvalley, Brighton Festival review - a fascinating insight into the world of Tove Jansson

Author Philip Ardagh shares his extensive knowledge in an engaging and charismatic talk

It was no matter that journalist Daniel Hahn dropped out ill at the 11th hour of this "audience with" event. Author Philip Ardagh's deep knowledge and unflappable demeanour comfortably carried the hour-long talk about the inhabitants of Moominvalley. We heard detail of characters, themes, metaphors, changes from books to the TV cartoons and detail of Tove Jansson and her family, who wrote the original books.

We coursed through the journey of a boy who saved his book tokens to buy the novels of Jansson, his favourite author, and eventually came to write a 380-page book about the world of the Moomins that has been officially sanctioned by Moomin folk, and has seen Ardagh become friends with members of Jansson's family.

There was no shortage of fascinating facts – the silk monkey in Comet In Moominland that was changed to a kitten in a later edition or how Thingumy and Bob, who carried the fantastic secret of a beautiful red ruby in their suitcase, were representative of an early relationship Jansson had with a woman, that she had to keep secret.

Character intricacies were discussed with the audience – Moominpappa, a big kid who gets melancholy sometimes but who watches over his family in a magic crystal ball; Moominmamma, the nurturing, early feminist role model who looks after everyone but paints herself a rose mural to disappear into when she needs some "me time"; Moomintroll, the everyman; the gloomy Groke who kills off the fire and light in winter, in an attempt to keep warm herself. There's even a list of the top 10 fears of a Filijonk and a mapped-out Moomin family tree.

While billed as an event for Moomin fans young and old, this was more of a nostalgic jaunt for the older generations – there wasn't an awful lot to keep the younger members of the crowd engaged. But for those excited by the differences between a Snork and a Moomin, why the Hemulens wear dresses or why the Ancestors live behind the stove in people's houses, this was a fascinating talk – and a book to add to my Amazon wishlist.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.