Adam Mickiewicz

Portrait of Adam Mickiewicz

Adam Mickiewicz was a Polish poet, dramatist, essayist, translator and political activist and is regarded as the national poet in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. He was born on 24th December 1798 in Zavose, Belarus and died on 26th November 1855 in Istanbul, Turkey aged 56.

Major Works

“Poezye” (1822)
Sonety Krymskie” (“Crimean Sonnets”) (1826)
Pan Tadeusz” (1834)

Biography Timeline

Adam Bernard Mickiewicz was born on 24th December 1798 in Zaosye, near Nowogródek, Belorrusia in the Russian Empire. His parents were an impoverished noble family and he studied at the University of Wilno (now Vilnius) University).

1815: He attends the University of Wilno (now Vilnius).

1817: He joins a secret patriotic student society.

1819: He graduates from university.

1822: His first volume of poems is published entintitled “Poezye”. The preface explains his admiration of western European poetic forms and his desire to adapt therm for Polish literature.

1823: He is arrested with other students and former students and deported to Russia for illegal patriotic activities. Once in Moscow he becomes friends with Aleksandr Pushkin and other Russian thinkers. The second volume of “Poezye” contained parts two and four of his “Dziady” (Forefather’s Eve), in which he combined elements of folklore with tragic love to create a new kind of Romantic drama.

1825: He visits the Crimea.

1826: He publishes his sonnets “Sonety Krymskie” (“Crimean Sonnets“). 

1828: “Konrad Wallenrod and Grazyna” is published which describes the Teutonic wars against the Lithuanians. This is a thinly veiled critique of the age old animosity between the Poles and the Russians.

1829: He is finally allowed to leave Russia due to ill health. He then travels to Germany.

1830: Still in Germany he misses the unsuccessful Polish insurrection which starts in this year.

1832: He moves to Paris, France where he writes In 1832 he settled in Paris and wrote the “Księgi narodu polskiego i pielgrzymstwa polskiego” (“Books of the Polish Nation and Its Pilgrimage”) amoral history of the Polish people.

1834: The epic poem “Pan Tadeusz” is written which describes an fictional account of feuds between polish noble families.

1838: The third part of “Dziady” is published which was actually completed in 1833. Mickiewicz views Poland there to be a role model to western Europe due to its national Christian virtues of self-sacrifice and redemption.

1839: He is appointed professor of Latin Literature at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

1840: He resigns his professorship to teach Slavonic literature at the College de France.

1844: The Emperor Napoleon the Third dismisses him due to his mystical teachings about Andrzej Towiański. He is appointed as librarian at the Arsenal. He visits Rome to persuade the new pope to support the cause of Polish national freedom.

1849: He edits the radical newspaper “La Tribune des Peuples” (“People’s Tribune”).

1855: In September he is sent to Türkiye by Prince Adam Czartoryski to mediate between groups of Poles who are going to fight with the Allies in the Crimean War.

Adam Mickiewicz died in Constantinople, Türkiye of cholera on 26th November 1855. In 1890 his remains are reburied in the vault of Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland amongst the graves of Polish Kings.


Mickiewicz was leading literary figure in Poland and in Europe and has been compared to Lord Byron and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He was one of Poland’s three great bards along with Zygmunt Krasinski and Juliusz Slowacki and has been hailed as the greatest poet in all of Polish literature. Despite being Poland’s national poet, he is also esteemed in Lithuania and has been described as the “Slavic Bard”.

His influence extends beyond literature into general culture and politics and he is seen as a national patriot and prophet. Despite this fame he is less well known outside Poland but appeals particularly to those countries facing oppression from other states or empires.

He has been used as a character in works of fiction such as in Stanislaw Wyspianski’s “Legion” and has been the subject of many paintings including those by Eugene Delacroix and the portrait by Józef Oleszkiewicz. Many statues have been erected to him and schools and streets have been named after him in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. On his centenary in 1898 a massive statue of him by Cyprian Godebski was erected in the main square of Krakow with the inscription “To the Poet from the People”.  

Further Information

List of works by Mickiewicz.

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