Mika Waltari
Humanist of the day

Mika Waltari

Mika Waltari is one of Finland’s better known authors, both in Finland and beyond. Waltari’s output, unparalleled in its scope, included novels, poems, plays and film scripts. During wartime the State Information Office co-opted Waltari to draft political propaganda.

Mika Waltari

Mika Toimi Waltari
Born September 19, 1908, Helsinki. Died August 26, 1979,  Helsinki.

Master of Arts, 1929 (Theoretical Philosophy, Aesthetics and Modern Literature), University of Helsinki

Author, screenplay writer, translator
Book reviewer, 1932-42, Maaseudun tulevaisuus newspaper
Editorial secretary, 1936-38, Suomen Kuvalehti weekly
State Information Office, 1939-44
Member, Academy of Finland, 1957-78

Honorary Doctor, University of Turku, 1970
Honorary member, Finnish writers’ union, 1960
Pro Finlandia literary award, 1952
State Award for Literature, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1949 and 1953
Honorary award, Aleksis Kivi Fund, 1947

Mika Waltari’s bibliography

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Written by Tomas Sjöblom and Lauri Lönnström
Translated by John Calton

Mika Waltari was born in Helsinki in 1908. His father died when he was six, so the boy’s education was put in the hands of his mother Olga Johansson and his uncle Toivo. Waltari’s childhood circumstances had a strong influence on his writing. Waltari’s literary breakthrough came with his fifth work, a first novel called Suuri Illusioni (‘My great illusion’, 1928)

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Although he is best known for his literary output, Mika Waltari was also an extremely prolific playwright and screenwriter. Panu Rajala states that Waltari’s dramatic works would have been enough for any playwright’s life’s work. Waltari had a complex love-hate relationship with the theatre.

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