Minna Canth (1844–97), who is widely acknowledged as Finland’s first significant female writer, was born Ulrika Wilhelmina Johnsson in Tampere. Her versatile oeuvre includes short stories, novellas, plays and journalism; she wrote mainly in Finnish but also in Swedish. She championed women’s rights and feminism, and drew social issues into her writings and discourse.
She and her husband, Johann Ferdinand Canth (1836–79), lived in Jyväskylä and had seven children. After his death, she became a businesswoman, taking over a draper’s shop in Kuopio. This allowed her the financial independence to provide for her family while also participating in the literary and social-activism scenes; her home became a place where intellectuals and artists gathered.
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