Henrik Gabriel Porthan

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Porthan, portrait by Johan Erik Hedberg

Henrik Gabriel Porthan (1739 in Viitasaari - 1804 in Turku) was a scholar sometimes known as The Father of Finnish History. He was a student of Daniel Juslenius and a Fennophile. He brought Finnish history-writing, study of mythology and folk poetry, and other humanistic sciences to an international level. His De Poësi Fennica (published in five parts 1776-78), a study on Finnish folk poetry, had great importance in awakening public interest in the Kalevala-poetry and Finnish mythology, and the study was also the basis of all later study of the poetry. He was among the founders of the Aurora Society that advocated Finnish literary pursuits and was the editor of the first Finnish newspaper, Tidningar ugifne af et sällskap i Åbo, founded in 1771.

Porthan was the teacher of Frans Mikael Franzén and also inspired the following generation of Finnish authors, poets and researchers, many of whom were among the founders of the Finnish Literature Society in 1831.

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