Katrin Jakobi

About Katrin Jakobi


Katrin Jakobi (real name Livia Oras, née Livia Lüüs, 20 June 1909 – 26 January 1986) was a prose writer who lived in exile.

She was born in Võru as the daughter of a physician and attended the primary school of Tallinn Girls’ Commercial Gymnasium from 1917–1922 and the Girls’ Gymnasium of the Estonian Youth Education Society in Tartu. Later, she studied Estonian literature at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Tartu and ceramics, sculpture, goldsmithing and enamel work at several places in Estonia, Finland and the US. In 1943, she left Estonia for Finland, in 1944, Finland for Sweden and worked from 1945–1946 as an archivist at a library in Sweden. From 1946–1949, she and her husband, literary scholar and translator Ants Oras lived in Oxford, UK. From 1949 to her death, she lived in Gainesville, Florida, US.

From 1935–1940, she was active in in Estonia as a translator. She translated some novels and popular scientific books. She made her debut in literature with a short story published under the name of Katrin Jakobi in the journal Tulimuld in 1965. Her collection of short stories Suvekodumaa (‘Summer Homeland’, Lund, 1975) received the Henrik Visnapuu Literature Prize. The book contains 13 short stories in which depict different people and move in different speciality areas with intense compassion and expertise. The author uses a smoothly personal style with good story-telling skills and attempts to penetrate the psychological depths of emigre Estonians of the 1950s–1960s. Several stories in the collection have a masterful resolution. Critics noted appreciatively that Jakobi followed the short story traditions inherited from Karl August Hindrey. The book depicts the struggle of Estonians who had adjusted to exile on the social and ideological battlegrounds of that time’s world. When the homeland of memories was closed for refugees or destroyed, they found mental support in Finland as it resembled the homeland environment.

Another book written by Katrin Jakobi is the children’s book Kolm juttu neljast kassist (‘Three Stories about Four Cats’). The fairy tales about cats were originally not written for publication but for two little Estonian girls in America, one of whom was the author’s goddaughter. As other children to whom the stories were read also liked them, the author could be persuaded to have the cat stories published in print. The book also contains four poems.

L. P. (Translated by I. A.)


Books in Estonian

Short stories
Suvekodumaa. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1975. 223 lk.

Children’s stories
Kolm juttu neljast kassist. Tallinn: 1991. 30 lk.