European studies blog

13 posts from August 2014

29 August 2014

Greek Orthodox Paper Icons in the British Library – their purpose, style and iconography

Greek paper icons are devotional prints that flourished from the 17th to the end of the 19th century. They depict saints or religious scenes, and often include panoramic views of monasteries, with accurate depictions of their buildings and the surrounding area together with scenes of monastic life, and representations of the monastery’s patron saints, thaumaturgical icons and miracles connected with them. Inscriptions provide a key to the various scenes and give additional information about engravers, or the donors who commissioned the works.

The prints were addressed to a wider, less educated public than guides in book form and were given by travelling monks to the faithful, encouraging them to support their monastery or make a pilgrimage to it; alternatively, they were kept as mementoes of a visit to a particular monastery.

Venice and Vienna were originally the biggest production centres of Orthodox religious prints but printing workshops later appeared in the Balkans, Moscow and, by the end of the eighteenth century, in Constantinople and on Mount Athos. Though important in the history of graphic arts in the Balkans, relatively few of these prints have survived (the authoritative catalogue by D̲orē Papastratou, first published in 1986, lists 618 items). It was only in the late 19th century, with the revival of interest in folk art, that they became collectable (like Russian religious lubok prints).

The British Library has a small but choice collection of 11 Greek paper icons kept at shelfmark HS.74/2135. All are views of Mount Athos monasteries, printed in Vienna (nos 1,8), Venice (nos 2,5) Moscow (no 6) or Mount Athos (nos 3,4,7,9,10) between 1764 and 1879. They are all mounted on board, 92 x 57 cm in size. Two prints (nos 5 and 9) are duplicates. The list below gives brief notes about the prints and includes their catalogue numbers in Papastratou’s  indispensable work, which provides fuller iconographic descriptions, transcriptions of texts, and information about variant versions.

1.Hē Monē tou Hagiou Paulou [The Monastery of Hagios Paulos] (Vienna,1 May 1798). Engraving. [Papastratou 501]

Engraving of the Monastery of St Paul
There are three registers. In the top register, the three images show, left to right,  the Icon of the Virgin which was miraculously saved after it was thrown into the fire by the iconoclast Emperor Theophilos (813-842), the Holy Trinity with St George and St Paul (the monastery’s patron saints), and the adoration of the Magi (whose gifts, as the inscription reminds us, are kept in the Detail of the harbour with ship and fisherman from the icon of St Paul's monasterymonastery). The magnificent view of the monastery in the central and largest register, includes an abundance of details: a boat pulling into dock, the monastery’s shipyard (Ταρσανάς), a monk drawing water from a well with a pulley and a chain, another fishing in a sea teeming with creatures including a sea-monster (κῆτος); various buildings and other locations are named in the image. Finally, the text (in Greek and Church Slavonic) at the bottom register gives details of the donors. The influence of earlier Western art on this and other landscapes in paper icons can be seen comparing it to Fra Angelico’s Thebaid in the Uffizi.



2 (and 5). Hoi Hagioi Tessarakonta Martyres [The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste] (Venice, 1764).  Engraving. [Papastratou 482]

Engraving of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste in a lake
The Monastery of Xeropotamou is dedicated to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, a group of Roman soldiers who, in 320, converted to Christianity and were condemned to be exposed naked upon a frozen lake near the city of Sebaste (present-day Sivas in Turkey). One of the soldiers lost heart, left Detail showing one of the Forty Martyrs seeking refugehis companions and sought shelter in a warm bathhouse (left). His place was taken, however, by one of their guards who, seeing the crowns of glory shining in the sky, proclaimed himself a Christian and joined the other thirty-nine. The frozen bodies of the martyrs were carried away in carts and burned, and their ashes dispersed though some were preserved as precious relics. The subject was popular in Byzantine art, thanks to its dramatic potential; the various stages of the story are here clearly depicted and explained in the accompanying key to the characters and action. The names of the donors are also given. 



3. Hē Panagia hē Oikonomissa, Hē Monē Megistēs Lavras kai Skēnes apo ton Vio tou Hagiou Athanasiou [The “Panagia Oikonomissa”, The Monastery of Great Lavra and Scenes from the life of St Athanasius] (Hagion Oros, 1868). Engraving. [Papastratou 433]

Engraving with images of the Virgin and Child with saints (centre), the Great Lavra monastery (bottom), and scenes from the life of St Athanasius (border)
The monastery of Great Lavra was the first monastery built on Mount Athos. The icon shows the Virgin and Child with Saint Athanasius and Saint Michael Synadon. At left and right, ten scenes from the life of Saint Athanasius, the founder of Great Lavra in 963. This is a variant of an 1810 engraving. The most notable difference is the reversal of the view of the monastery.

4 (and 9). Hē Monē Koutloumousiou – Hē Metamorphōsē tou Sōtēros [The Monastery of Koutloumousiou – The Transfiguration] (Hagion Oros, 1839). Engraving. [Papastratou 473]

Engraving showing the transfiguration of Christ above the Monastery of Koutloumousiou
The monastery of Monastery of Koutloumousiou is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ which here occupies a larger than usual part of the print and is better integrated into the landscape. As in the much copied and imitated Raphael prototype of which this is a distant echo, the radiant Christ is at upper centre between Moses and Elijah, and Peter, James, and John are crouched in disarray below. The lower part shows the Monastery of Koutloumousiou with, at left, a monk ploughing a field and, at right, a Phiale for the blessing of the waters, and a chapel.

6. Hē Panagia Portaïtissa tōn Ivērōn – Hē Monē tōn Ivērōn [The “Panagia Portaitissa” and the Monastery of Ivērōn] (Moscow, November 1838). Engraving. [Papastratou 455].

Image of the Virgin and Child (centre) with the Monastery of Ivērōn (below) and scenes from the legend of a miraculous icon (borders)
The Monastery of Ivērōn is dedicated to the Dormition (Assumption) of the Virgin. Its name denotes that it was founded by ‘Ivērites’ (i.e. natives of Georgia). The icon is that of the Virgin Portaïtissa. According to legend, a widow from Nicaea (Νίκαια), in north-western Anatolia (part of modern İznik) threw the icon into the sea to save it from destruction by the soldiers of the Detail of the Monastery of Ivērōn engraving showing a monk holding the miraculous iconiconoclast Emperor Theophilos. The waves brought it to the coast of Ivēra where it was found by Gabriel, a monk in the monastery, who placed it in its Katholikon (the major church building in the monastery). The icon was later lost three times but each time it miraculously re-appeared at the gate of the monastery (hence its name). At left and right there are 12 scenes, 10 of which illustrate the history of the icon. Under the icon there is a view of the Monastery of Ivērōn and its seashore and, below, a parallel text in two columns, in Greek and Church Slavonic, gives the names of the donors. The engraving was first published in Halle in 1794. This 1838 printing includes some new details, for example the figure of the monk in the foreground (presumably Gabriel) holding the icon.


7. Hē Monē Pantokratoros [The Monastery of Pantokrator] (Hagion Oros, February 1844). Engraving.[Papastratou 479].

icon of the Transfiguration with Christ, Moses and Elijah above and nine apostles below, and three scenes from the life of Elijah
The Monastery of Pantokrator is, like the Monastery of Koutloumousiou, dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ. The icon of the Transfiguration is framed at upper centre with Christ, Moses and Elijah above and nine apostles shown kneeling or prostrate below. Three scenes from the life of Elijah are shown: at left, his ascension in a chariot of fire and, below, the angel appearing to him; at right, the prophet fed by ravens. This is a variant of a 1779 engraving with notable differences  in the landscape.

8. Hē Monē Vatopediou [The Monastery of Vatopedi] (Vienna, 1879). Lithograph. [Papastratou 446].

Lithographed view of the Monastery of Vatopedi
This panoramic view is the only lithograph in this collection, and derives from a photograph. Stylistically it is very different from all the other prints in the collection and the only one without an icon or patron saint component. The inscription provides a key to 20 buildings of the monastery and the identity of the donor.

10. Hē Monē Koutloumousiou – Hē Metamorphōsē tou Sotēros [The Monastery of Koutloumousiou – The Transfiguration] (Hagion Oros, ca 1850). Engraving [Papastratou 474].

Engraving of the transfiguration (above) with a monastery and St Anne and the Virgin Mary (below)
The Transfiguration here occupies the upper half of the engraving. The monastery is shown at lower left, with St Anne carrying the Virgin and, in a reliquary on the ground, one of the most treasured relics in the monastery, the right leg of St Anne.

11. Hē Monē Karakal(l)ou [The Monastery of Karakal(l)ou] (Hagion Oros, February 1843) Engraving. [Papastratou 494].

Engraving of the twelve Apostles (above) and a monastery (below)
The top register depicts the Twelve Apostles, with Saints Peter and Paul (the monastery’s patron saints) in the centre. The inscription at the bottom register indicates that the engraving was commissioned by the grocers of the town of Redestos, and executed by Kyrillos, an Athonite monk. Kyrillos was active between 1834 and 1862.

Chris Michaelides, Curator Italian and Modern Greek 


Waldemar Deluga, and Iwona Zych, “Greek Church Prints,” in Print Quarterly 19, no. 2 (June 2002): 123-35. P.423/617.

Ḏorē Papastratou, Chartines eikones: orthodoxa thrēskeutika charaktika, 1665-1899 (Athens, 1986).  LB.31.b.347 [English edition: Paper icons: Greek orthodox religious engravings, 1665-1899.(Athens, 1990) f91/0114-5]

Theocharēs Mich.Provatakēs, Charaktika Hellēnōn laïkōn dēmiourgōn, 17os-19os aiōnas.(Athens, 1993). YF.2013.a.3460.

Graviura Grecheskogo mira v moskovskikh sobraniiakh / Prints of the Greek world in Moscow collections. (Moscow, 1997). YA.1999.b.1598.

La Stampa e l’illustrazione del libro greco a Venezia tra il settecento e l’Ottocento: atti della giornata di studio , Venezia 28 ottobre 2000.  (Venice, 2001). YF.2012.a.30117; especially Anastasia Tourta, “Greek religious engravings printed in Venice”, pp. 67-78, and George Golobias/Ioustinos Simonopetritis, “Paper icons, from Venice to Mount Athos”, pp. 53-63.

Paulos M. Mylōnas, Ho Athos kai ta monastēriaka tou hidrymata mes’ apo palēes chalkographies kai erga technēs (Athens, 1963). Cup.21.w.14.

Peter Noever (ed.) Ikonen auf Papier [exhibition at the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, 18. Dec.1998-28. Feb.1999]. (Vienna, 1998) [Awaiting shelfmark]

Evtim Tomov, Estampes de la Renaissance Bulgare. (Sofia, 1978) [Awaiting shelfmark]

27 August 2014

Remembering the Isonzo Front

On August 10th, while looking at the daily headlines online, I spotted one commemorating the centenary of the first death on the “forgotten” Austro-Italian Front.

This was the strange death by “friendly fire” of Countess Lucy Christalnigg, a Red Cross volunteer and amateur racing driver who was shot by nervous border guards when she apparently ignored a request to stop. She was driving along the winding valley road which still runs the length of the river Soča in what was southern Austria and is now western Slovenia, very close to the Italian border. It was 13 days since the Austro-Hungarian Empire had declared war on Serbia; just a week since Italy had announced its intention to remain neutral.

A gorge with a river, and a narrow road cut into one sideThe valley road where Lucy Christalnigg was killed (photo: Janet Ashton) 

The Countess’s death is still something of a mystery: which enemy, on the border with a neutral country far from the action, might she have been mistaken for? 

If the sentries wrongly took her for an Italian insurgent, they were prescient at least in their suspicions of their neighbour. In April 1915, Italy entered the war on the side of the Allied powers, who promised large swathes of Austrian territory from the Alps to the Adriatic ports in return. This led to the opening a long mountain front that ran the length of their mutual border, and saw some of the most terrible battles of the First World War, a bloodbath of ice and fire.

Italian_Front_1915-1917Map of the Italian Front, 1915-1917, from the History Department of the US Military Academy West Point (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

In the UK, this has been called the “forgotten” front, perhaps known only as the backdrop to Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, but it is far from forgotten in the countries affected. The most infamous battle was 1917’s Caporetto, whose name entered Italian idiom as a byword for disaster. Caporetto is the Italian name for the tiny town of Kobarid in Slovenia, very few miles down the same valley road from the spot where Lucy Christalnigg was killed. It was then also known by the German name Karfreit, underscoring the complexity of the area’s history. In Austria, Karfreit was the “miracle” battle.

This war cost the mainly Slovene-speaking civilian population of the area very dearly. Many were displaced to refugee camps, or fell victim to hunger, cold and disease. Once praised by the Austrian Emperor as “the most loyal subjects”, Slovene-speakers were regarded with suspicion as Slavs and subject to heavy censorship from 1914 onwards, even as they fought alongside their German-speaking compatriots to preserve the Habsburg Empire. 

Italians in turn soon learned the cost of the expansionist ambitions of their government. Military discipline was homicidally brutal, and the ill-equipped invading troops suffered constant military setbacks at the hands of Austria-Hungary and its German Allies, including one young commander named Erwin Rommel. Ultimately, Italy was on the victorious side, but did not receive everything it expected at the Peace Conference, which remained a source of great bitterness to nationalists and the bereaved.

The Kobarid memorial with a charnel-house and church
Italy did take possession of the Soča Valley (Isonzo in Italian) between the wars, subjecting the area to a relentless policy of Italianization. In Kobarid, Mussolini ordered construction of a charnel house (photograph above, by Janet Ashton) for the remains of the innumerable Italian victims of their 1917 defeat, the awful price of a few miles of mountain valley. After 1945 the area went to Yugoslavia and from 1991 has been part of the newly-independent Slovenia. It is now known as a peaceful destination for outdoor sports, popular for hiking or for kayaking the turquoise rapids of the Soča. Where there were gun placements there are campsites today, but amid the wild flower meadows and snowy peaks lie numerous reminders of the War. Kobarid is home to an excellent, non-partisan museum devoted to the victims of the battles of the Soča/Isonzo Front. From it, the Kobarid Historical Trail runs up into the mountains, taking in the charnel house and the remains of war-time fortifications. This is part of a longer way-marked trail called the Pot Miru, the Walk of Peace, which has been receiving a lot of attention in tourist publications this year, and follows the route of the Front down to the Adriatic near Trieste. It passes the open air museums of trenches and dugouts which punctuate the landscape, and the graveyards for troops on both sides.  Many of the graves have no names, as the remains of the man or boy inside could not be identified. In the village of Srpenica, a stone cross marks the spot where Lucy Christalnigg was shot.

  The remains of First World War fortificationsThe remains of First World War fortifications in the Soča Valley (photo: Janet Ashton)

Slovenia, Austria and Italy are all participating in the Europeana 1914-1918 project, digitising objects from library collections and from the families of ordinary participants in the war to record its impact for posterity.

Janet Ashton, WEL Cataloguing Team Manager

References/further reading:

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. (London, 1929). C.131.c.2.

Koren, Tadej. The First World War Outdoor Museums: the Isonzo Front, 1915-1917. (Kobarid, 2009.)

Krauss, Alfred. Das “Wunder von Karfreit,” im besonderen der Durchbruch bei Flitsch und die Bezwingung des Tagliamento. (Munchen, 1926). 09084.c.30.

Monticone, Alberto. La Battaglia di Caporetto. (Udine, 1999). YA.2001.a.34735

Thompson, Mark. The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919. (London, 2009). YC.2010.a.6941

War Cemetery
 An Austro Hungarian war cemetery for the dead of the Italian Front (photo: Janet Ashton)

25 August 2014

Are exams getting easier?

GCSE results came out on 21 August. This volume of exam regulations from the Queen Isabel II College of the Humanities in Cadiz in 1836 might contribute to the debate whether standards in education have been falling ever since the Queen of Sheba tested Solomon with hard questions in I Kings 10:1.

  Title-page of Exámen público á que se presentan los alumnos del Colegio de Humanidades de Isabel II
Exámen público á que se presentan los alumnos del Colegio de Humanidades de Isabel II. de esta ciudad de Cádiz, dirigidos por el Sr. D. José Villaverde y Rey ... En los dias 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21 y 22 [de setiembre], dando principio á las once de la mañana
. (Cádiz: en la Imprenta de la Viuda e Hijo de Bosch, 1836(. British Library 1444.e.8(17)

The Colegio de Humanidades was founded by the liberal goverment in 1835 to reform the curriculum, ‘which may be compared to a ruinous gothic edifice, ill repaired and patched with the architecture of Churriguera’.

There are three levels: the first graders must have been about 10 years old, and the top class were around 16-18.

Exams were conducted orally, before an audience of parents.

For reading, the pupils read from Vallejo’s primer (first grade) or Fleury’s Catechism (second) or the fables of Iriarte (third; they are still read in Spanish schools today); for the fourth and fifth levels the reading matter is not prescribed.

In calligraphy they are tested in Spanish character and English character.

In Latin the bottom class (clase ínfima) do declension and conjugation; by the time they get to the top class they are called on to compose sentences, translate Cicero’s letters and Nepos’s lives into Spanish, and translate from Spanish to Latin.

The highest level of Latin, called Humanities, was taught by ‘don Pedro O’Crouley’, presumably an Irish Catholic exile. Here the prescribed authors are Sallust, Livy, Cicero (speeches), Terence, epigrams of Catullus and Martial (suitably censored, one trusts), Tibullus and Ovid, and the eclogues and Aeneid of Virgil ‘They shall make a historical and mythological analysis, an exercise in prosody on different metres, and write pieces in Latin in accordance with the rules of good taste’.

Some named star pupils will present a composition in Spanish translated from Latin authors, and will ‘dispute’ on each other’s work. Fewer boys took Greek.

Philosophy had fewer takers too, covering psychology, general grammar, logic, ‘crítica’ and transcendental metaphysics.

There were separate exams in Maths, Algebra, Geometry and plane trigonometry; this last ‘includes using and combining the principal formulae in trigonometry, the construction of tables and the resolution of triangles in general. By practical geometry problems such as measuring distances and heights (accessible and inaccessible), raising plans … and analysing any algebraic formula manifesting the corresponding geometrical constuction, and vice-versa any geometrical problem that might be set shall be placed in equation’.

Cosmography includes the globe and its circles, determining longitude, latitude; maps and projections, the division of stars and and exposition of the celestial phenomena, and the rotation and revolution of the planets.

Business studies (‘Comercio’) includes a comparison of single- and double-entry book-keeping; sending out goods either on one’s own account or another’s; discounts on letters and renewal of IOUs; buying land; when one forms a company; how to make a balance sheet.

Texts in French were passages from Fénélon’s Telemaque and Moliere’s Ecole des maris. In English (taught by don Guillermo Macpherson) they recite verse and act out scenes from ‘los selectos gramáticos ingleses’, which I trust is a typo for ‘dramáticos’, the select English dramatists.

In music the boys will perform ‘Valzer para piano, de Motzan’ and on the violin ‘Di tanti palpiti’.

In dance they are tested in ‘rigodon, contradanza española y vals’.

In 1836 there was no riding exam, for want of space.

Barry Taylor, Curator Hispanic studies


María del Carmen Simón Palmer, ‘Notas bibliográficas sobre programas de exámenes públicos celebrados en Madrid de 1632 a 1844’,  Anales del Instituto de Estudios Madrileños, 8 (1972), 501-17.

Flores de Arenas, Francisco. Oracion inaugural ... en la apertura de estudios del Colegio de Humanidades de Isabel II … (Cádiz, 1835). 1444.e.8.(16.)

Diagram of the steps for the 'Rigodon' danceThe Rigaudon or Rigadon; one of the dances tested by the college. From Raoul Auger Feuillet, Recueil de dances (Paris, 1709). 1570/798.(3.)

22 August 2014

Postcards and Photographs from the Eastern Front

The current exhibition in the British Library Folio Gallery “Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour”  starts with a multimedia display of postcards written by soldiers on the Western Front to their loved ones. A group of British actors read their messages while visitors look at the screen.  It is a very touching experience.

Postcards played an extremely important role for soldiers on the Western and Eastern Fronts during the war. Less well known are postcards of the time from the Eastern Front, since narratives about the Second World War overtook historical research during Soviet times and later. However, in recent years Eastern European publishers have started to pay attention to the collections of postcards kept in private archives of enthusiastic collectors.  Amongst the most recent acquisitions in our Ukrainian collections is the album Svitova viina y poshtovykh lystivkakh z kolektsii Ivan Snihura (‘World War in Postcards from the Collection of Ivan Snihur’; Chernivtsi, 2014; YF.2014.a.20099).

Cover of Svitova viina y poshtovykh lystivkakh z kolektsii Ivan Snihura

Postcards were extremely popular in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the territory of modern Ukraine (part of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires), postcard publishers in Lviv (known also as Lemberg and Lwów), Czernivtsi (known also as Czernowitz), Uzhhorod (known also as Ungwar) and smaller places such as Kolomiya were very productive. Visitors to modern Ukraine will notice proud displays of old postcards in many lovely decorated coffee houses, especially in Lviv.

Our Ukrainian and Polish collections hold a dozen colourful albums of old postcards from these vivid cosmopolitan places, for example Nasz ukochany Lwów na dawnej karcie pocztowej 1896-1939 (‘Our beloved Lwów in old postcards 1896-1939’; 2000; YA.2001.b.2435); Lwów na dawnej pocztowce (‘Lwów in old postcards’; Kraków, 2006; YF.2008.b.1023), Posztówki lwowskie i kresowe "Książnicy-Atlas" (‘Postcards from Lwów and Kresy by Książnica-Atlas’; Katowice, 2006, YF.2008.a.41284); Zolota doba kolomyiskoi lystivky (‘The Golden Age of Postcards from Kolomea’; Kolomyia, 2010; YF.2012.a.10282); Lviv u starykh lystivkakh (‘Lviv in old postcards’; Kyiv, 2011; LF.31.a.3729). 

During the First World War Ukrainians, being members of a stateless nation, fought in several armies:  in the army of the Austro-Hungarian empire, in the Russian army, and in the Canadian army. This photograph of Filip Konoval, a Ukrainian who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force from 1915 to 1919 and was awarded the Victoria Cross, is now digitised in the project “Europeana 1914-1918” (image from the Imperial War Museum).

Photograph of Corporal Filip Konova; in uniformPhotograph of Corporal Filip Konoval (© IWM)

Most of the postcards sent by Ukrainian soldiers are to be found in Western Ukraine and relate to the Ukrainian unit in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire called Sichovi Striltsi (Ukrainian Sich Riflemen). The British Library holds a lovely book about the Sich Riflemen in postcards, Ukrainski Sichovi Striltsi – lytsari ridnoho kraiu (Kolomya, 2007; YF.2007.b.3418).

Girls dancing in Ukrainian national costumeMany postcards were sent home from the Eastern Front by German and Austrian soldiers. Often they depicted Ukrainian landscapes or villagers in their colourful costumes. Soldiers loved to take photographs with local people, especially with beautifully-dressed Ukrainian girls and children. Some of these photographs held in various European libraries have been digitised in “Europeana 1914-1918” (left: Ukrainian Girls dancing; below right, Ukrainian girls from the Kalush region, photographs from the Austrian National Library)

Ukrainian Girls in national costume greeting a uniformed soldierMore than 160 painters, amongst them some Polish and Ukrainian artists, were involved in creating propaganda postcards in Germany and Austria. Their postcards depicted the same subjects as those created by Western artists and displayed in the exhibition: soldiers fraternizing, crimes committed by enemy forces, the invincibility of their own forces, acts of heroism, etc. Ukrainian painter and graphic artist Olena Kulchytska (1877-1967) painted the  sufferings of the civilian population and refugees. Her works were reproduced as postcards by the Ukrainian Women's Committee to Aid Wounded Soldiers in Vienna. We hope that one day the postcards published by this Committee will be collected and published.

 As the war raged these small works of art were sent back and forth to families, friends and loved ones, bringing joy and sorrow. The picture of World War One would be incomplete without these testimonies of “grief, grit and humour”. As Ukraine prepares to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of its independence on Sunday 24 August amid new turmoil, memories of both World Wars are vivid there as never before.

Olga Kerziouk, Curator Ukrainian Studies

20 August 2014

The Drama of Marinetti by Mikhail Karasik

The British Library has recently acquired the rare Russian artist’s book Drama Marinetti v odinnadt︠s︡ati kartinakh  (‘The Drama of Marinetti in eleven pictures’)  by Mikhail Karasik (St. Petersburg, 2008; shelfmark HS.74/2177).

Title page in the style of Marinetti;s typographical designs
Russian title page as a post card (Sheet 0). Reproduced with kind permission of Mikhail Karasik.

The book is one of a limited edition of 15 signed copies and consists of 12 sheets in the form of large postcards. On one side of each appears a lithographic illustration made with reworked old photographs. On the reverse side appears the offset text of the drama composed from contemporary newspaper and literary sources. The text inside the book is printed in Russian; an English version is designed as a newspaper – The Drama of Marinetti, special issue – and inserted into the book. For a full description see Mikhail Karasik: catalogue raisonné 1987-2010 (Nijmegen, 2010), p.157.

Collage of Marinetti arriving in RussiaMarinetti is met (Sheet 4)

Bearing the sub-title “The Story of How the Leader of World Futurism Flopped in Russia”, it graphically evaluates Marinetti’s  legendary visit to Russia in 1914. Highlighting the differences between Italian Futurism which as Karasik suggests “promoted urbanism, the cult of technology and machines, the destruction of tradition and old culture”, and Russian Futurism which “focused on folk culture, and the Russian icon”, it will complement the British Library’s outstanding collection of Italian and Russian Futurist books.

Collage showing Marinetti in  a military uniform at a barber's shop

At the Barber's (Sheet 3)

One particularly interesting feature of the book’s graphics is the way in which works of Russian Futurists are referenced in the collaged lithographs. For example sheet no 3 At the Barber’s clearly refers to Larionov’s painting The Officer’s Barber (1910) with the heads of the officer and barber being replaced by those of Marinetti and Larionov; and later in sheet no 5 Marinetti and Venus, Marinetti appears in his car with a figure of Venus familiar from Larionov’s painting of Venus from 1910.

Marinetti in a car in front of a large image of Larionov's painting 'Venus'
 Marinetti and Venus (Sheet 5)

There are several heated debates in the Drama of Marinetti about the nature of Futurist poetry. The Italian approach embodied in Marinetti’s idea of “Words in Freedom” is contrasted with the Russian idea of Zaum’ (transrational or trans-sense language). Whereas Marinetti in scene 7 sees them as essentially the same, Benedikt Livshits sees the Italian approach as maximizing chaos “so as to minimize the intermediary role played by reason” and tries to explain the experiments of Russian Futurists, in particular Khlebnikov.

Collage of heads against a decorative background

 The Studio of Kulbin (Sheet 8)

Marinetti finally, in an aside in the same scene, concludes that “Russian Futurism has little in common with Western Futurism” though he does admit that “when it comes to Futurist music then Russia has to be recognized as taking the lead”. He continues: “In 1910 Kulbin was the first to proclaim the principle of free ‘music of noises’ and now we Italians are merely following in his footsteps”. In recognition of this remark sheet no. 9 Soundnoises (see picture below)  is based on a photograph of the Italian Futurist composer Russolo and some of his sound and noise machines or Intonarumori out of which emerge the heads of Kulbin, Khlebnikov, Kruchenykh and Marinetti. Kulbin’s theories on Free music, Colour music (synaesthesia) etc are set out in Studio of the Impressionists [Studiya Impressionistov, 1910], the cover of which is used as a backround for the superimposed heads of Russian Futurists in sheet no. 8 The Studio of Kulbin (see picture above). For a description of Kulbin’s theories on music see my article on Studiya Impressionistov in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Vol. III, Part II, pp.1260-4. (Oxford, 2013; YC.2013.b.1128)

Collage of heads emerging from Russolo's 'noise machines'

Soundnoises (Sheet 9)

Karasik’s book will be an invaluable addition to an already large number of his works held by the British Library. A list of works written and illustrated by him as well as works of others published by him are included in Hellyer, Peter, A catalogue of Russian Avant-Garde Books 1912-1934 and 1969-2003 (London,  2006; YC.2006.b.2068 ). More recent items can be found on the webpage for Russian Avant-Garde Artists’ Books 1969-2010 in the British Library. 

Peter Hellyer, Curator Russian Studies

18 August 2014

St Helen – imperial archaeologist

As the holiday season reaches its height, it is salutary to reflect that solitary female travellers nowadays may face few of the hazards of earlier centuries. This did not prevent various intrepid ladies setting forth across the seas for a variety of reasons even in ancient times – the elderly St Monica, for example, who, when her wily son, the future St Augustine, gave her the slip and embarked for the fleshpots of Rome on the pretext of seeing off a friend at the harbour, promptly took ship alone for the express purpose of tracking him down – and succeeded.   

Many of the first women to undertake lengthy journeys overseas did so for religious reasons, in order to visit pilgrimage sites such as Rome, the shrine of St. James of Compostela in Spain, or Jerusalem; Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, a seasoned traveller, had ‘done’ all of these, and joining the Canterbury Pilgrims represented a relatively tame trip for her. In doing so, however, they were following a particularly illustrious example – that of St. Helen (or Helena), empress, mother of Constantine the Great, and legendary discoverer of the True Cross.

Illuminated initial with St Helen praying before the True Cross

St Helen, Cutting from an Italian Antiphoner (c. 1490 - c.1510).  British Library Additional 18197, ff.D, G and I. f.G

The precise date of St Helen’s birth is unknown, but the bishop and historian St Eusebius of Caesarea describes her as being around 80 years old on her return from her journey to Palestine, dated to 326-328. Little is known of her early life and even her birthplace is uncertain, though her son Constantine’s renaming of the city of Drepanum in Asia Minor as ‘Helenopolis’ in her honour makes it a strong possibility. However, in Britain a tradition soon developed, spread by the chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, that she was the daughter of King Cole of Camulodunum (Colchester), who made an alliance with the Roman emperor Constantius to avoid further conflict, sealed by the marriage of his daughter to the emperor. After the birth of their son Constantine in Serbia in the early 270s, Constantius divorced Helena to make a more prestigious match; she never remarried, and lived a quiet and secluded life until, in 306, Constantine was proclaimed emperor by the troops on the death of his father. He had always displayed great loyalty and affection for his mother, and in 325 gave her the title of Augusta Imperatrix and unrestricted access to the imperial treasury in order to pursue her passion for what we would now term archaeology.

Title-page of 'Britanniae utriusque Regii… Origo' with a woodcut of a printing press and manuscript notesTitle-page of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Britanniae utriusque Regii… Origo (Paris, 1517) 292.f.23

In 326-328 she set out for the Holy Land, intent on finding as many relics of the Judaeo-Christian tradition as possible. Following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the devastation wrought by the Emperor Hadrian, the city was still being rebuilt, and Helen ordered the demolition of the temple erected by Hadrian of the site of Jesus’s tomb near Calvary. During the preliminary excavations, according to the historian Rufinus, three crosses were discovered and their authenticity tested, a woman at the point of death recovering when she touched the third. Constantine had the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built on this site, and on her return to Rome Helen brought with her many relics, including portions of the True Cross, earth from Golgotha and a rope allegedly used at the Crucifixion and preserved at the Stavrovouni Monastery which she founded in Cyprus.

The cult of St Helen rapidly became popular in Britain, where she became the patron saint of Abingdon as well as Colchester and is commemorated in many churches, her feast being celebrated on 18 August. The mediaeval Golden Legend, which includes an account of the finding of the True Cross, was instrumental in spreading her fame, especially when it began to appear in print in the 15th century and was translated into English by William Caxton; the British Library holds a copy of this translation (C.11.d.8.) among its many editions of this popular text.

In the Orthodox Church she and her son, the first Christian emperor, are commemorated on 21 May, the ‘Feast of the Holy Great Sovereigns Constantine and Helen, equal to the Apostles’. She inspired Evelyn Waugh’s only historical novel Helena (London, 1950; NNN.948), as well as several mediaeval romances in which she embodied the ideal of patient endurance, living in seclusion and working on her embroidery, until ultimately vindicated. In 1947 the German-born British author Louis de Wohl published The Living Wood, a novel which, according the to 1959 American edition (011313.e.38), charts her progress ‘from worldly woman to inspired saint’, with a cover suggesting a certain disregard for historical accuracy.

Whatever the truth of the matter, St Helen impresses us across the centuries as a spirited and courageous woman prepared, even at an advanced age, to take risks in pursuit of her ideals. Fittingly, she is the patron saint not only of archaeologists, converts, difficult marriages and divorced people, but also of new discoveries – which it is never too late to make, in the British Library and the wider world.

Susan Halstead,  Curator Czech & Slovak Studies



15 August 2014

'Pfui, der Struwwelpeter!' British Adventures of a German nursery classic

In 1844 the German doctor and writer Heinrich Hoffmann was looking for a book to give his three-year-old son for Christmas. Fed up with the dull, moralising tales on offer, he decided to create his own book, telling the stories of children who meet various – often exaggeratedly brutal – fates as a result of their bad or foolish behaviour. The stories are written in lively rhymes with cartoonish illustrations, in many cases integrated into the text and telling the story visually alongside it like a forerunner of the modern comic book. Hoffmann was encouraged to publish the result the following year and so Der Struwwelpeter was born. It was an instant success and, when an English translation appeared in February 1848, became a bestseller in Britain too, aided by clever and catchy translations of the original verses.

Two images of the 'Struwwelpeter' character in a red tunic with wild hair and long nailsThe eponymous Struwwelpeter/Shock-headed Peter, left in Hoffmann's original illustration, from an early English edition (London, 1848; British Library 11645.f.42.) and right from the 100th German edition (Frankfurt am Main, 1876; 12389.i.13.)

 The  book was soon established as a nursery classic in Britain and to those brought up in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, a reference to ‘Harriet and the matches’ or ‘Johnny Head-in-Air’ would have been instantly familiar. The characters, stories and accompanying pictures formed an easily recognisable basis for political or social comment and caricature, much as the Alice books with Tenniel’s illustrations still do today. A German Politischer Struwwelpeter appeared as early as 1849, and an English Political Struwwelpeter  50 years later.

Cover of 'The Political Struwwelpeter' with a lion in the classic pose of the Struwwelpeter character with long mane and clawsHarold Begbie, The Political Struwwelpeter, illustrated by F. Carruthers Gould. (London, 1899). 12315.k.22. The cover shows ‘The Neglected [British] Lion’

On the outbreak of war in 1914 both German and British writers reached again for Hoffmann’s book as a basis for satire. The German Kriegs-Struwwelpeter replaces the naughty children with representatives of the various anti-German allies, while the poems in E.V. Lucas’s Swollen-Headed William all describe the misdeeds of Kaiser Wilhelm II. You can read more about both books and see digitised images on our World War One webpages. The Second World War also produced a British parody, Struwwelhitler, ascribed to ‘Dr Schrecklichkeit’ (‘Dr Horror’; the real authors were Philip and Robert Spence).

Cover of 'Struwwelhitler' with a caricature of Hitler as Struwwelpeter with blood spurting from his fingersStruwwelhitler: a Nazi story book by Doktor Schrecklichkeit (London, 1941). YA.2002.a5749.

Struwwelpeter also seems to have developed the kind of cult status among Victorian and Edwardian adults that classic children’s television programmes enjoy among their modern descendants; a review of a stage version in the London Times of 23 December 1912 speaks of ‘the childish stories which bearded men have been known to shout at each other across dinner tables’. The Marlborough Struwwelpeter, written and illustrated by a pupil in his last year at Marlborough College, turns the stories into tales set around the school and is full of in-jokes about its traditions and characters. It is no doubt just one chance survivor of many such local parodies.

Cover of 'The Marlborough Struwwelpeter' with a caricature of a Marlborough school boyArthur de Coetlogon Williams, The Marlborough Struwwelpeter (Marlborough, [ca. 1909])  X.525/1299

Today, however, Struwwelpeter is generally out of favour as a children’s book. It is still in print in Germany, but probably intended more for nostalgic adults or collectors than for children. In Britain it has been out of print for many years and is generally only mentioned in newspaper articles about the ‘most shocking’ (or ‘nastiest’, ‘most horrific’, etc.) children’s books ever. Since the 1960s, those who read it as children have, with some exceptions, queued up to say how it terrified and traumatised them. Stories usually picked out as particularly gruesome are those of Harriet (Paulinchen in German) who plays with matches and is burnt to death, and Conrad/Konrad, whose punishment for thumb-sucking is to have both thumbs cut off by a tailor with giant scissors (‘the great, long, red-legg’d scissor-man’ in the English version).

  Page from 'The English Struwwelpeter' showing Harriet's clothes catching fire and her cats weeping over her ashesHarriet’s terrible fate from The English Struwwelpeter

There is a tendency now to describe Struwwelpeter as a sadistic and authoritarian attempt to frighten children into obedience and make them conform to a rigid social code. But in fact Hoffmann wrote it as a reaction against books which he thought were overly moralistic or blandly accepting of social norms. Some tales even challenge contemporary attitudes: a huntsman is shot by his intended prey, and three boys who mock a black man are punished. Even in the most ‘horrific’ tales, the very exaggeration of the children’s fates, both in the stories and the accompanying illustrations, was intended for comic rather than frightening effect. This tradition has continued in Britain through Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales and Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes to the works of Roald Dahl and the focus on ‘all things wicked, weird and woeful’ in the highly successful Horrible Histories books. Struwwelpeter was also successfully reinvented for new audiences in the late 1990s as the ‘junk opera’ Shockheaded Peter.

Looking at the book in this context, and especially considering its design, it is perhaps not unjust to place it also in the tradition celebrated in our current exhibition Comics Ummasked – that of the subversive and anarchic comic book, that ‘challenge[s] categorisation, preconceptions and the status quo’. Like many of the comics in the exhibition, Struwwelpeter has been loved and hated, treasured and condemned in equal measure, and its legacy and influence will continue to be debated.

Susan Reed, Lead Curator Germanic Studies

13 August 2014

Turbulent priest and polemical playwright: the life and death of Kaj Munk

In 1955 the winner of the Golden Lion at the sixteenth Venice International Film Festival was an unlikely choice. Ordet (The Word), the only film which brought its director Carl Theodor Dreyer  critical or commercial success during his lifetime, portrays life in a Danish rural community, telling the story of the farmer Morten Borgen and his three sons Mikkel, Anders and Johannes. From the opening shot of white sheets fluttering in the sea-wind to the final transfiguring scene of a miracle which resurrects Mikkel’s wife and heals the schisms and religious conflicts among the villagers, the simplicity and directness of the film gives it a timeless quality which ensures its classic status almost sixty years after its release. Yet those who admire it may know little of Kaj Munk, the author of the play which Dreyer had adapted for the screen, whose life was as dramatic as any of his works.

Photograph of Kaj MunkKaj Harald Leininger Petersen (1898-1944, picture (left) from Wikimedia Commons) was born on the Danish island of Lolland and, after being orphaned at an early age, was fostered by a family named Munk whose name he adopted. He was ordained as a Lutheran pastor, and in 1924 was appointed to Vedersø, a parish in western Jutland. Widely read in history, philosophy and modern drama, he translated Hamlet into Danish (1938: BL shelfmark X.955/51), and his admiration for Shaw and Ibsen is evident in the plays which he began to write in 1917 with Pilatus (first published in 1937: Cup.400.f.15); Ordet (1925: published in 1932; X.909/23062) was the second of these. Like Ibsen, he frequently set the action in bygone days – mediaeval Denmark or biblical times – which emphasized the ageless nature of the moral dilemmas confronting his characters while placing them at a ‘safe’ distance from the increasingly dangerous times in which he lived.

Throughout the 1930s Munk viewed the rise of Hitler and Mussolini with growing concern. He had initially acclaimed Hitler’s achievement in providing a rallying-point for a united Germany, which he felt lacked a counterpart in Scandinavia, but came to repent of his ill-judged remark and spoke out with increasing vehemence, culminating in 1938 with an open letter to Mussolini published in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten attacking the persecution of the Jews.

Munk’s concern proved to be justified when, in 1940, Hitler occupied Denmark. He continued to use drama as a means of openly criticizing Nazism, as in Niels Ebbesen (1942; 11756.b.6), whose hero, a mediaeval Danish squire who assassinates another German invader, Count Gerhard III, represented an obvious parallel to the current situation. Such figures combined the dramatic importance of a central character prepared to suffer for deeply-held beliefs with Munk’s conviction that in perilous times a single strong leader was needed to act decisively and steer the people to safety.  

As Munk’s opposition to Nazism and those prepared to collaborate with it grew ever more vociferous, his friends tried to persuade him to go underground, but he refused to, preaching increasingly outspoken sermons, culminating in one which he delivered in spite of a Nazi ban in Copenhagen Cathedral on Advent Sunday in December 1943 (, published as a special issue of the magazine Folk og Frihed; P.P.7256.da.(2.)). A month later, on 4 January 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo, and the following morning his body, with an abusive note claiming that he had worked for Germany anyway, was discovered in a ditch on a country road near Silkeborg. His death proved to be the turning-point in rousing resistance to the German invasion, with 4,000 Danes attending his funeral; his body was subsequently taken back to his parish church for burial, and his widow Lise was granted permission by the Danish government to live in the parsonage until her death in 1998.

Cover of 'Liv og glade Dage' with a picture of a dead bird

To the last years of his life Munk continued to write lyrical poetry, such as the collection Liv og glade Dage (‘Life and happy days’; Copenhagen, 1936. X.619/8387), affirming the beauty of creation as well as expressing intransigent moral opposition to the outrages of his times. His life bore witness the words of Martin Luther: ‘I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience’, and by his death he at last gave the Danish people the focus they needed, in his view, to turn against their oppressors. He is commemorated as a martyr in the Lutheran church’s Calendar of Saints on 14 August.

Susan Halstead, Curator Czech & Slovak

11 August 2014

Albinia Lucy Wherry and Russian “knights” on war-time postcards

Among other material in the Wherry Collection, donated to the British Library in 1962, I came across three Russian postcards.

Albinia Lucy Wherry (1857-1929) worked at the Women’s Emergency Canteen in Paris during the First World War and was awarded a badge of service for her efforts. The Canteen opened in April 1915 underneath the Gare du Nord, one of the main railway stations for Allied troops on their way to or from the front, as well as other military destinations. Albinia worked at the Canteen from 1915-1918, and it is believed she put together and displayed a collection of postcards whilst working there. The postcards form part of the collection of material which she later donated to the British Library. A selection of humorous postcards and  items relating to the Women’s Emergency Canteen in Paris are now on display in our current exhibition in the Folio Society Gallery Enduring war: grief, grit and  humour, and the majority of the Wherry Collection postcards are currently on exhibition in Case 1 of the Philatelic Exhibition on the Upper Ground Floor in the St Pancras building (the three Russian postcards can be found in slide 21).

The images are of a very distinctive artistic style close to the tradition of Russian icons. In the early 20th century some artists adopted it for illustrating children’s books, fairy tales, popular literature, calendars and presentation albums and theatre programmes.

Illustration of a scene from the opera 'A Life for the Tsar' showing cheering peasans, in a decorative borderLes Solennités du saint couronnement. Ouvrage publié avec l'autorisation de Sa Majesté l'Empereur par le Ministère de la Maison Impériale sous la direction de M. V. S. Krivenko, avec la collaboration de MM. N. Opritz, E. Barsow. (St Petersburg, 1899) LR.25.c.20

One of the best-known artists who worked in such a style is, of course, Ivan Bilibin.  His pictures were often used in postcards, like this one (HS.74/2027, vol. 7): 

Coloured illustration of two men and a woman in elaborately-decorated traditional Russian costumes

However, these images (reproduced below) are related to the First World War and bear the initials“BZ”.

Three iages: 1) A knight, death and devil with a burning city in the background. 2) Three knights on horseback. 3) a knight fighting a three-headed dragon

“BZ” appears to be a Russian artist, Boris Zvorykin (1872-1942?). He was born in Moscow into merchant family and studied for a year or so at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. By the beginning of the First World War he had become a successful illustrator, designer of postcards, theatre programmes and celebratory dinner menus, who was greatly in demand, working with various Russian publishers including the famous Sytin.

In 1919 Zvorykin worked for the Moscow magazine Krasnoarmeets (‘The Red Guard’) (the British Library holds a jubilee issue of this journal published in 1921 to celebrate its third anniversary – shelfmark 8820.f.41). His most famous work of that period is a poster Boi krasnogo rytsaria s temnoi siloi (‘The Red Knight fighting with the Dark Force’; Cup.645.a.6.).

A worker on horseback armed with a hammer beats back two armed knights

However, in 1921 Zvorykin emigrated to Paris where he also worked as a book designer, illustrator and later as an icon painter for Orthodox churches abroad. It was in France that he illustrated Pushkin’s books, including Boris Godunov. A copy of this edition is also held by the British Library.

  Picture of a knight in blue kneeling before a lady in red in a garden

Title-page of 'Boris Godunov' with a portrait of Godunov as Tsar A.S. Pushkin, Boris Godounov (Paris, 19??);  RB.23.b.5893.

Katya Rogatchevskaia, Lead East European Curator (Russian)

08 August 2014

Moomins and more…

Saturday 9 August will be celebrated in Finland and worldwide as the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson, Finnish artist and writer. Born in Helsinki into a Finland-Swedish family of artists – her father was a sculptor, her mother an illustrator – Tove Jansson is perhaps best known in this country as the creator of the Moomintrolls. 

Self-portrait of Tove Jansson, surrounded by characters from her Moomin storiesTove Jansson, Self portrait with Moomins (© Moomin Characters™).

In the first book about the Moomins that appeared in English in 1950, Finn Family Moomintroll  (‘Trollkarlens hatt’), Moominmamma writes a special letter to English children, anxious that they may not understand trolls and explaining the particular characteristics of a Moomintroll, how it is “smooth and likes sunshine” unlike ordinary trolls which “popp up only when its dark”.  She ends the letter by asking to be excused her “rottn’ english” saying that “Moomins go to school only as long as it amuses them”. 

This was the start of a long association with British readers, further strengthened in 1954 when a comic strip featuring the Moomins began to appear in the Evening News. Originally created by Tove Jansson herself, after some years the comic strip was continued by her brother, Lars Jansson. 

  Photograph of Tove Jansson and her brother LarsTove Jansson and her brother Lars (© Moomin Characters™).

Less well known perhaps is that she also illustrated the Swedish translations of some British classics, notably J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and The Hunting of the Snark. In 2011, the original English editions of the Lewis Carroll works, this time with the Tove Jansson illustrations, were published in the UK by the Tate, as the text on the back cover of The Hunting of the Snark puts it, “so that readers can enjoy this wonderful adventure afresh through the eyes of one of Europe’s finest illustrators”. 

Tove Jansson’s artistic flair was not only within the field of illustration and comic strips. A special exhibition at the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki to mark this year’s centenary demonstrates her enormous versatility as an artist, from landscapes to still lifes, from political caricatures to large wall paintings created for public spaces. She also painted portraits, including many of herself. 

  Self-portrait of Tove Jansson in 1975Tove Jansson, Self portrait, 1975 (© Moomin Characters™).

In recent years her writing for adults has become increasingly popular in the UK. Both new and reissued translations of her novels and short stories have been published by Sort of Books and have sold in large numbers. The Summer Book (‘Sommarboken’), which describes the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter as they spend a summer together on an island, has won particular acclaim.  Justine Picardie, reviewing it in the Daily Telegraph, describes it as “a marvellously uplifting read, full of gentle humour and wisdom”. 

  Photograph of Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä with a small boat on the island KlovharunTove Jansson and her partner Tuulikki Pietilä on the island Klovharun where they spent their summers (© Moomin Characters™)

Sort Of have also published the translations of Tove Jansson’s autobiography Sculptor’s Daughter (‘Bildhuggarens dotter’), which describes her childhood in Helsinki, and this year, of the authorised biography by Boel Westin, Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words (Tove Jansson: ord, bild, liv). 

For researchers studying Tove Jansson, the British Library’s collections have much to offer, including most of the original texts in Swedish, their English translations and a growing body of secondary literature, as her works have become the focus of increased academic interest. 

Last year we were delighted to add to our collections a copy of the very first Moomin book with its original pictorial card covers. Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen (‘The Small Troll and the Great Flood’) was first published by Söderströms in Helsinki in 1945, and later that year in Sweden by Hasselgrens. Surprisingly it was first published in the UK only a couple of years ago in 2012, as The Moomins and the Great Flood. Although Tove Jansson herself was later self-critical of this first Moomin story, it saw the start of the very distinctive characters which have become some of the best loved in children’s literature worldwide.   

Barbara Hawes, Curator Scandinavian Studies


Tove Jansson, Finn Family Moomintroll. Translated by Elizabeth Portch. (London, 1950)  012591.g.82

Tove Jansson, Trollkarlens hatt.  (Helsingfors, 1957)

Lewis Carroll, The hunting of the snark. (London, 2011)  YK.2011.a.33954

Lewis Carroll, Alice's adventures in Wonderland.  (London, 2011)  YK.2011.a.33960

Tove Jansson, The summer book.  Translated by Thomas Teal.  (London, 2003)  H.2003/2483

Tove Jansson, Sommarboken. (Stockholm, 1972)  X.909/25688

Tove Jansson, Sculptor's daughter : a childhood memoir.  Translated by Thomas Teal.  (London , 2013)  YK.2014.a.12669

Tove Jansson, Bildhuggarens dotter. (Stockholm, 1968)  X.990/1792

Boel Westin, Tove Jansson : life, art, words : the authorised biography.  Translated by Silvester Mazzarella (London, 2014)

Boel Westin, Tove Jansson : ord, bild, liv (Helsingfors, 2007)  YF.2007.a.26218

Tove Jansson, Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen (Helsingfors,1945) RF.2014.a.5

Tove Jansson, The Moomins and the great flood.  Translated by David McDuff.  (London, 2012)  YK.2013.a.14855