Paavo Haavikko

Paavo Haavikko

Paavo Haavikko in 1960
Born (1931-01-25)25 January 1931
Helsinki, Finland
Died 6 October 2008(2008-10-06) (aged 77)
Helsinki, Finland

Paavo Juhani Haavikko (January 25, 1931 in Helsinki – October 6, 2008) was a Finnish poet, playwright, essayist and publisher, considered one of the country's most outstanding writers. He published more than 70 works, and his poems have been translated to 12 languages.


Paavo Haavikko was born and grew up in Helsinki. His father was a bookbinder and later in import business. 1951. In 1951 Haavikko graduated from the Kallio Coeducational School, and published his first collection of poems.[1]

In the 1950s Haavikko published several poetry collections more, culminating later in the collection entitled Talvipalatsi ('The Winter Palace'; 1959).[1] He was at the forefront of the emerging modernist movement in Finland, and in the following decades he went on to have a profound influence on many other genres as well. As a result of his literary achievements, he became the leading writer of his generation and of the entire postwar period in Finland.[2]

Paavo Haavikko with his first wife, the writer Marja-Liisa Vartio (1924–1966).

Haavikko's first wife Marja-Liisa Vartio was also a writer. They had two children. Marja-Liisa Vartio died in 1966, and Haavikko stopped writing for a long time.[1] Haavikko married Ritva Rainio in 1971.[3] They lived separately since 1983.[2]

Career as a writer

Haavikko started his career as a poet, but he published in almost every genre of literature. His drama has seldom been played on traditional theatre scenes. Television series Rauta-aika illustrated freely the Finnish National epic Kalevala. Operas Ratsumies (English title: The Horseman) and Kuningas lähtee Ranskaan (English title: The King goes forth to France) were composed by Aulis Sallinen to librettos by Haavikko.[4]

Haavikko placed many of hiw works in historical context but included references to more modern politics, such as Juho Kusti Paasikivi ans Stalin in his play Agricola ja kettu ('Agricola and the Fox'), or Urho Kaleva Kekkonen as a viking ruler.[1] He scrutinized Finland's leading politicians and civil servants in his column in weekly magazine Suomen Kuvalehti.[2]

Images occurring often in Haavikko's poetry included the king, palaces, gardens, and the woods.[2] Haavikko was talented in describing love, romantic and relationships between men and women. After the death of his first wife he started to write about subjects less discussed in poetry: economy, politics and society.[4]

Business life

From 1967 to 1983, Haavikko was literary director of the Otava publishing company, and from 1989 to his death owner of the Art House publishing company.[1][5]

He and his family had a company producing peat for fuel.[6] He also owned forest. When he died, his family inherited 3 million euros.[4]



Haavikko's works represent many different literary genres, including the librettos for the two operas. His career as is exceptional in its mere productivity: a book every eight months according to his own reckoning.[1]

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.


Poetry compilations


Other prose



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Riikonen, H.K. "Haavikko, Paavo (1931 - 2008)". Kansallisbiografia - The National Biography of Finland. Biografiakeskus, Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Liukkonen, Petri. "Paavo Haavikko (1931-2008)". Authors Calendar. Kuusankoski library. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  3. Riikonen, H.K. "Haavikko, Paavo (1931 - 2008)". Kansallisbiografia (in Finnish). Biografiakeskus, Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 Tapio, Vesa (2014). "Elämä oli ennen toisenlaista, mutta nyt se on toisenlaista". Seinäjoen kaupungiteatteri (in Finnish). Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  5. Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008.
  6. Tolonen, Seppo (2002). "Kustantajaperhe tekee turvebisnestä". Kaleva (in Finnish). Retrieved 20 September 2016.
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