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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Minna Canth

b. 1844, Tampere, Russian Finland; d. 1897, Kuopio, Finland

A playwright, short-story writer, and social activist, Minna Canth was the first notable “Finnish Social Realist,” admired especially for the psychological depth of her later works. She depicted her characters realistically and with compassion, exploring the oppressive structural conditions—such as patriarchal order—governing their lives. The radical polemics expressed in her literature made her the target of religious and conservative authorities. Her plays include the feminist drama A Working-Class Wife (1885); Children of Misfortune (1888), which was banned; and the psychological portrait Anna-Liisa (1895).