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Virpi Hämeen-Anttila

Virpi Helena Hämeen-Anttila
Born October 15, 1958, Espoo.

Bachelor of Arts, 1987, Master of Arts (South Asian Studies), 1996, University of Helsinki

Author, teacher, researcher, translator
Hourly-paid teacher, University of Helsinki, 1997-.
Project Assistant, Indus seals, documentation and publication, University of Helsinki, 1983-6.
Illustrator (scientific), various publishers incl. Weilin & Göös, Otava, Cambridge University Press, Tiede-lehti.
Translator (of English, French, Sanskrit, Bali, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil), the Finnish Oriental Society, Basam Books, Jalava.
Author (published with Otava, WSOY, Minerva).

Chairperson, Lahti International Writers’ Reunion, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Chairperson, writers’ division, copyright organisation Sanasto ry, 2012-

Research interests

Sanskrit and South Asian literature, esp. Sanskrit writing from pre-classical and classical period (600 BCE – 1200 CE), its narrative fiction and structures; main publication and (forthcoming) doctoral thesis topic: the origins and development of frame story technique in Sanskrit literature.

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Awards and special achievements
Eino Leino Prize (for literature), 2002 (with Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila)
Finnish booksellers’ Laila Hirvisaari Prize, 2003
Vuoden tieteentekijän palkinto 2004
Vantaa-palkinto 2009 (with Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila)
Academic of the Year 2004, Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers
City of Vantaa Award, 2009 (with Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila)

Photo: Mirva Kakko/Otava
Written by Virpi Hämeen-Anttila (Kaija Hartikainen, toim.)
Translated by John Calton


Teaching is in my blood. Although there is more knowledge than ever in the world, it isn’t going to be of any use to us unless we learn how to select and prioritise. That is why we need teachers. My grandfather was a great believer in education for all. My mother's dream was to become an upper secondary school teacher of English and Latin. That dream never came to anything: university studies were not feasible in the early 1950s when you were working full time. But I get to carry on the torch: I've had the pleasure and the privilege to teach and give lectures.

I have immense respect for the teaching profession. The teacher is the one who can either ignite or extinguish the desire to learn. The most important aspect of teaching is to impart a passion for the subject and to make the students see why it is worth their time and study. When teaching Sanskrit I have laboured to make the difficult seem easier. By giving mass lectures I have expanded both my audience and the range of my own interests.

I also act as a cultural guide in India, and there I share the knowledge I have gathered at the University. Writing popular non-fiction is a continuation of my teaching. Rakkauden Atlas ('The atlas of love', 2005) and Tarujen Kirja ('The book of tales', 2007) are collections of essays my husband and I have written on topics dear to us both. Minun Intiani ('My India', 2014) is a travelogue, a travel guide and a cultural history all in one. In addition I have written a number of articles on my own field as well as on my teaching.

Virpi Hämeen-Anttila functioning as travel guide in Rajasthanissa, 2012. Photo: Virpi Hämeen-Anttila.​
Virpi Hämeen-Anttila functioning as travel guide in Rajasthanissa, 2012. Photo: Virpi Hämeen-Anttila.​

Hämeen-Anttila speaking on literature and writing here.


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