Created by the eccentric Finnish author Tove Jansson, The Moomins were a family of inocuous hippo-like creatures with huge round snouts, who lived in 'Moominvalley', a remote Northern idyll outside of space and time and well-shielded from the influences of the world beyond.
Although the Moomins started life in the mid-1950s as a cartoon strip in the 'Daily Express', they came to have a whole series of children's books written about them in the decades that followed, and were at the height of their popularity in the '70s, during the post-hippie era.
'Tales from Moominvalley', 'Finn Family Moomintroll' and 'The Exploits Of Moominpappa' were among the numerous titles - Moomintroll was the ingenuous son of the tribe, with The Snork Maiden as his vain, self-regarding sister. There were also a whole phalanx of other characters, including the itinerant pipe-smoking Snufkin, Too-Ticky the leather-wearing tam-o-shantered tomboy who lived in the boathouse, Sorry-oo the mournful dog, Little My, and The Hemulin, a very large Moomin who was much-travelled and worldly-wise. These and the many other strange denizens of Moominvalley had a number of adventures together, as well as assisting each other against the dangers posed by various villianous creatures including the terrifying Groke, the condom-shaped Hattifatteners who lived on electricity, and the bad-tempered Sand Lion.
Jansson, who died in 2001, said that she based many of her creations upon her neighbours or other people she knew. She wrote for adults too, and was also a gifted artist. Her Moomin stories won her the Hans Christian Andersen children's fiction award in 1966.