Author. As a child he heard the songs of the Finnish-Swedish romantic poet Franzén, and nurtured his learning of fantasy with novels. He enrolled at the university in 1833, planning to study medicine, and received his master's degree in summer 1840. In 1841 he became the editor of a newspaper, which was mainly devoted to summarizing articles from the foreign press. He wrote with a flavor that was often dramatic or light and chatty, and the paper's circulation began to rise. Especially popular was his serialized 'Letters to Lieutenant Leopold in Georgia'. His style of journalism and his serialized stories connected to an increasingly important female readership. He gradually began devoting more attention to social and educational issues, practicing investigative journalism in his series of articles concerning the financial situation of students or the housing conditions of the poor. He received a degree in history in 1844, and two years later he gained his doctorate with a treatise dealing with the history of marriage and the position of women amongst the ancient Finns. He began to distinguish himself as a lyric poet with three volumes called Heather Blossoms starting in 1845, and to write for children with his first collections appearing as illustrated books in 1847. The earliest of his historical romances was ‘The Duchess of Finland’, published in 1850. In the early 1850s, plays such as 'After Fifty Years' and ‘Regina von Emmeritz’ made him the most prominent dramatist in Finland. He produced almost sixty fairy stories and children's poems from 1854 to 1856 for the children's paper Eos. In 1856 he also wrote the first of his two textbooks; these were aimed at meeting the needs of elementary instruction and were published in many editions. The Sylvia poems also date from this period; they include 'A Summer Day at Kangasala', 'Sylvia's Christmas Greeting from Sicily' and 'Under Rowan and Lilac'. He was named professor extraordinary of the History of Finland at the University in 1854, then was made first ordinary professor of Finnish, Russian and Nordic history in 1863. He joined the faculty of the University of Helsinki as professor of Finnish history in 1864, then served as university president from 1875–78, when he retired as Emeritus Professor and received the title of "state councilor", a Russian honorary title. He was allowed to withdraw from his professional duties, which gave him more time for literary efforts. He was awarded the Order of St. Anna, Second Class, an honor customarily granted to senior professors, and was made an honorary member of the Finnish Literature Society and also of the Swedish Literature Society of Finland. In his old age, it was as a master of the fairy story that he was admired, as a writer whose works had become familiar to generations of readers in Finland, Sweden and Norway. The fairy stories and plays remained central cultural features in Finnish homes and schools up to the 1950s.
Bio by: Pete Mohney