Märta Tikkanen

1935 -


Märta Tikkanen was born in Cavonius and grew up in Helsinki, where her father was a professor. She graduated in 1958, worked as a journalist and teacher of Swedish, and was the principal of the workers’ institute of Helsinki from 1972 to 1980. She was married to the author Henrik Tikkanen, who died in 1984.

Her writing is ardent and committed, anchored in the present day, and on many an occasion has given rise to a debate. From her debut in 1970 with nu imorron (N) to her novel Personliga angelägenheter, 1996, her subject has been the difficult partnership between man and woman, and her stories always revolve around the character of a vulnerable, but strong and energetic woman. Her novel Män kan inte våldtas (Eng. tr. Manrape), which came out during the international women’s year in 1975, highlighted the gender debate, and her autobiographical poetry collection Århundradets kärlekssaga (P) (1978, Eng. tr. The Love Story of the Century) consolidated her position as the senior writer of the women’s movement, known and read throughout Scandinavia.

Since then, she has continued her autobiographical exploration of the condition of love with her novel Rödluvan, 1986, her prose narrative Storfångaren, 1989, the lyrical Arnaía: kastad i havet, 1992, and Personliga angelägenheter. In 1979, she received the Nordic women’s literature prize, which had been set up in protest against the fact that the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize was only ever awarded to men.

Additions by the editorial team 2011:

The above biography was first published in 1998. Since then, Märta Tikkanen has published a book about her daughter: Sofia vuxen med sitt MBD, 1998; an autobiographical work about her life with Henrik Tikkanen: Två – scener ur ett konstnärsäktenskap, 2004; and a novel about her maternal grandparents: Emma och Uno. Visst var det kärlek, 2010.

Märta Tikkanen is the recipient of a number of awards and honours, including De Nios Vinterpris in 1999 and The Swedish Academy’s Finland Prize in 2002.

Further Reading

Anna Leppänen: “Märta Tikkanen: her use of alcoholism and rape as literary topics” in: Inger M. Olsen and Sven Hakon Rossel (ed.): Female voices of the North: an anthology; 2006