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Juhan Smuul

Juhan Smuul
Monument to Juhan Smuul
Monument to Juhan Smuul
BornJohannes Schmuul
(1922-02-18)February 18, 1922
Koguva, Estonia
DiedApril 13, 1971(1971-04-13) (aged 49)
Tallinn, Estonia
OccupationWriter, journalist
Notable worksJäine raamat (The Frozen Book)
Notable awardsPeople's Writer of the Estonian SSR (1965)
SpouseIta Saks
The Tooma farm in Koguva, the birthplace of Juhan Smuul

Juhan Smuul (18 February 1922 – 13 April 1971) was an Estonian writer. Until 1954 he used the given name Johannes Schmuul. Smuul was one of the most recognized writers in Soviet Estonia and was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Estonia, a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR, chairman of the Estonian Writers' Union, secretary of the board of the Union of Soviet Writers.


Smuul was born in the village of Koguva on the island of Muhu to Jüri Schmuul (1863–1940) and Ruudu Schmuul (née Tuulik, 1882–1969). He had three older sisters: Salme, Linda, and Liisa, and one younger sister, Aliide, as well as six half-siblings from his father's first marriage.[1]

He wrote several novels, often based on life on his native island of Muhu. He also authored several travelogues. His best-known work is The Frozen Book (Jäine raamat), about a Soviet expedition to Antarctica. Smuul also wrote four screenplays. They are:

  • Kirjad Sõgedate külast (1966)
  • Keskpäevane praam (1967)
  • Metskapten (1971)
  • Siin me oleme! (1978) (TV)

Juhan Smuul was an active Marxist-Leninist. In 1949 he participated in the Soviet repression campaign of deporting Estonians into eastern parts of Russia.

He also worked in Soviet Estonian journalism. He died in Tallinn.


Smuul was named People's Writer of the Estonian SSR in 1965. He was also awarded the Stalin Prize in 1952 and the Lenin Prize in 1961 and the Order of Lenin in 1967.

The literary award of the Estonian SSR (Eesti NSV kirjanduse aastapreemia) was named after him in 1972 and became the Juhan Smuul literary award from then on.

The Smuul family home, the Tooma farm (Estonian: Tooma talu), located in the village of Koguva, is a museum. Some streets in Estonia are named after him, and one of the districts of Kuressaare is also named after him.

In February 1972, a bas-relief of Smuul created by the sculptor Matti Varik [et] and the architect Allan Murdmaa was unveiled on the wall of the Writers' House in Tallinn's Old Town. After Smuul's role in the 1949 deportation of Estonians came to light in 2023, there were calls to remove the sculpture. Instead, in 2024 the Writers' Union decided to install a plaque below the bust with a QR code explaining Smuul's complicity.[2]

Personal life

Juhan Smuul was married first to the translator Ita Saks from 1945 until 1951. After divorcing, he married the poet Debora Vaarandi. Before his death, he lived for three or four years with the radio and Finnish-language television editor Ellen Noot. He had no children.[3]


  1. ^ Saarte Hääl JUHAN SMUUL 95: Naised Juhan Smuuli elus 20 February 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Writers' Union Installs Context Plaque below Juhan Smuul Statue". ERR. 8 February 2024. Retrieved 9 February 2024.
  3. ^ "Üle piiri ja rahvuse". Sirp. 29 October 2021. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
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Juhan Smuul
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