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Yrjö Hirn

Born 7 December, 1870, Lappeenranta. Died 23 February, 1952, Helsinki.

Master of Arts 1892 and Licentiate of Philosophy 1896, Imperial Alexander University

Professor of Aesthetics and Contemporary Literature 1910-37, University of Helsinki
Amanuensis 1894-1910, Library of Imperial Alexander University

Member of the Prometheus Society 1905-1914
Finnish delegate to the Paris Peace Conference 1919

White Rose of Finland, 2nd class, 1919
White Rose of Finland, 1st class, 1926
French Legion d’honneur, 1920
French Officier de l’Instruction publique, 1922
French l'ordre national de la Légion d'honneur, 1926
Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oslo, 1939
Swedish Academy, Gold medal, 1940

Photo: Museovirasto
Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by John Calton

Social engagement at the turn of the century

During his time at the University Yrjö Hirn was a firm advocate of extramural education. He was a member of many committees, learned societies and organisations and was on the board of the Otava publishing house for many years. His most important assignment was to take part, as a member of the Finnish delegation, in the Versailles Peace Conference  in 1919. Hirn also worked on behalf of the government as an inspector of the diplomatic missions in Paris and London.

Hirn had an extensive library and was said to be quite a bibliophile. Yrjö Hirn and his wife Karin were accustomed to entertaining foreign diplomats, scholars and people from the world of culture at home. Moreover, Hirn was in correspondence with a great many Finnish writers and did his best to assist them through his network of international contacts.


Photo: Museovirasto.​
Photo: Museovirasto.​


  • Riikonen, Hannu K. (2009) Hirn, Yrjö (1870–1952). National Biography of Finland online. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. Accessed 27 January, 2015
  • Österman, Pia (2002), Sivistyksen voima. Filosofeja, historioitsijoita, kulttuuri- ja kielitieteilijöitä -150 vuotta humanisteja (‘The Power of Education. Scholars of philosophy, history, culture and language–150 years of the humanities’). Helsinki, Yliopistopaino (Helsinki University press)
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