Kersti Juva
Humanist of the day

Kersti Juva

Kersti Juva has been translating English literature into Finnish since 1972. Together with her teacher Eila Pennanen, she translated the first two parts of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings; the third part she did on her own. This, her first translation, together with Richard Adams’ 1972 novel Watership Down, won the young ‘suomentaja’ the annual State Prize for Literature. Since then she has worked steadily to bring a variety of English texts into a Finnish-language world: first fantasy, children’s books and thrillers, and more recently works of classic literature and contemporary fiction.

Kersti Juva

Kersti Anna Linnea Juva
Born September 17, 1948, Helsinki

Bachelor of Arts, 1972, Master of Arts (English Philology), 2002, University of Helsinki

Finnish Translator of classic English authors, children’s literature, contemporary fiction, detective fiction as well as plays and radio dramas



Best known Finnish translations: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and works by Shakespeare, Jane Austen and A.A. Milne.

State Prize for Literature, 1976 (for Taru Sormusten Herrasta ~The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien and Ruohometsän kansa ~ Watership Down, Adams) and 1986 (for Hobitti ~ The Hobbit, Tolkien and Paperimiehet ~The Paper Men, Golding)
Finnish Cultural Foundation, Special Commendation, 2006
Arts Professor, 2008
Honorary Doctorate, University of Eastern Finland, Faculty of Arts, 2014

Photo: Sami Kero/HS
Written by Kersti Juva and Kaija Hartikainen (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

In Kallio upper secondary school I was taught by the legendary Viljo “Ville” Tervonen, who ignited my passion for the Finnish language. It then seemed only natural that I would apply to study Finnish in my hometown, at the University of Helsinki. There I met another significant figure in…

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When the Christian morals of my childhood home came into contact with 1960s student activism, the consequences were inevitable: I was utterly swept away by the revolutionary student movement. The feelings of injustice, social inequality, the problems of the third world – everything could be resolved by banding together behind…

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My connections to the University remained strong, albeit my studies less so. I had taught a course for a couple of years back in the 1980s at the Finnish department of the University of Helsinki; it was the very same course I had been on myself and my ‘sponsor’ had…

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I was a 20-year-old student girl when my parents came to tell me, with grave expressions on their faces, that I had been asked to be the yleinen seppeleensitojattar, literally 'general laurel binder', guiding the others binding the ceremonial laurels for the new graduands for the Faculty of Arts…

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