Paula Ivaska Robbins’s parents were born in Finland, and Finnish was her first language. A leather-bound edition of the Kalevala, illustrated by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, had a respected place in their bookcase—although it was never read. Dr. Robbins taught adult education at the University of Helsinki in 1982 under a grant from the Finnish Academy. Among her six published books are two historical novels based on the life of her grandmothers: Nights of Summer, Nights of Autumn, in Finland from the 1890s through World War I, and Below Rollstone Hill in the Finnish immigrant community of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. She is the author of two books on botanical history published by Purple Mountain Press: Jane Colden: America’s First Woman Botanist (2009) and The Travels of Peter Kalm: Finnish-Swedish Naturalist, Through Colonial North America, 1748-1751 (2007). A Wall Street Journal reviewer wrote, “So we must be grateful to Paula Ivaska Robbins for the first general-interest biography of Kalm in English.” “Ms. Robbins neatly describes the intellectual milieu of the time, when everyone who wrote on science seemed to know everyone else. It was a time of astonishing scientific breakthroughs, as she notes, and also lingering ignorance.” Robbins lived in Concord, Massachusetts, for twenty years, conducted a walking tour of historic Concord, and is the author of The Royal Family of Concord: Samuel, Elizabeth and Rockwood Hoar and their Friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson. She holds degrees from Vassar College, Boston University and the University of Connecticut and retired as the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Her Ph.D. dissertation resulted in her first book, Successful Midlife Career Change (AMACOM, 1978). Raija Majamaa, Senior Research Associate Emerita of the Finnish Literature Society (Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura) wrote after reading the manuscript of The Best of the Rune Singers, “Finally, I send you my notes about your fascinating manuscript. You have written a work of creative writing, fiction, not only a non-fiction and documentary collection of facts. The manuscript is a wonderful piece of documentation, still. Thank you! Be proud of the work, which shows American readers such an imaginative story from Finnish history.” The mother of two sons and grandmother of four, Dr. Robbins lives in a retirement community in Asheville, North Carolina. Reach her at Kalmia13@bellsouth.net.
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