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Kirsti Manninen

Kirsti Marjatta Manninen (née Aukia)
Born October 22, 1952, Seinäjoki

Master of Arts 1978, Licentiate 1978, PhD 1987 (Finnish Literature), University of Helsinki
Docent in Finnish literature 1988–, University of Helsinki

Freelance writer and scriptwriter 1983–
Writer of the History of the parish of Mänsälä 1978–82
Part-time history teacher 1974–78, Järvenpää Comprehensive School

Publications, awards and special achievements:
Non-fiction, novels, books for children and young people, scripts
Maaseutumitali 1994 (Pro Agria)
Tirkistys tulevaisuuteen prize 2000 (Family Federation of Finland)
Cross of Merit of the Disabled War Veterans Association of Finland 2001
Tietopöllö Prize for junior non-fiction 2006, for the team responsible for Suomen lasten historia (‘Finnish history for children’) (Manninen, Kuisma, Kaakinen)
Plättä Prize (for Suden arvoitus ‘Mystery of the Wolf’)
Kaarina Helakisa Prize (literature for children and adolescents) 2009
Golden Venla Award for best scriptwriter of the year 2014 (together with Antti Pesonen for the drama series Kansan mies ‘Man of the people)

Photo: Jouni Harala / Otava archive
Written by Kirsti Manninen, Tomas Sjöblom (ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

My Best Moments at the University of Helsinki

My best memories are connected with the twilit study halls of the University Library, which today is the National Library. How the staircases and balconies of the halls creak as I climb higher. A finger slides along a row of books, and it is necessary to check the slip of paper on which I have written down the correct index code. There, there it is, the correct issue of Gelehrtenlexikon, the Historical Journal, or some other old scholarly publication.

The smell of dust and old leather fills the air when I open the heavy tome on the nearest shelf or table. Will I find what I am looking for? Yes, there it is. With the book in my arms, I make my way down to my desk, adjust the lamp and then become absorbed in the curves of the frakturs and archaic language. The pen struggles to keep pace with the findings and insights. I have to make a copy of this, and that, and that…

It is likewise enthralling to sit by the microfilm reader of the study hall, after you have first inserted the film upside down a couple of times and finally got the device working properly. June, June… wait a second, what is that? Oh my, did they ride velocipedes in Turku already in May? The dim screen strains the eyes, no matter how much you zoom in, but on the pages of old newspapers the lost everyday life of the past lives on in all its forms. Here are prices for goods at the market, there an excursion by painters to Fölisö. I wonder if A. Hellsten will get his lost shawl back. And what kind of punishment will be handed down to the scoundrel who has been stealing food from the cold pantries of apartment block stairwells?

It was at the University where my dream of happy retirement years was born: every morning I would go the University Library and I would stay there until dusk, studying anything that popped into my mind. Occasionally, I would have a cup of coffee in the cellar with Liisi Huhtala or other familiar faces to compare finds and then each would return to their own treasures.

In a way the dream has come true even before retirement, although back in the 1970s I did not dare to imagine that with a few clicks of a button I could have all the treasures those archives contain on my computer screen. I spend hours almost every day in the National Library, or Doria to be more precise, and in the historical newspaper and magazine archive. Instead of in a cafeteria, new finds are now shared via Facebook, where about once a week I try to arrange a guided tour of these archival treasures for the readers of Enni Mustonen.

The cover by Väinö Blomstedt for the 1897 Christmas album Nuori Suomi (‘Young Finland’), which was dedicated by the editorial staff of the newspaper Päivälehti to the memory of Minna Canth “as a sign of their gratitude and respect.” Photo from the National Library.


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