Jozef Kraszewski

Portrait of Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski

Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski was a prolific Polish novelist, publisher, historian, journalist, scholar and painter.  He was born in Warsaw, Poland on 28th July 1812 and died in Geneva, Switzerland on 19th March 1887 aged 74.

Major Works

Poezje” (Poems) (1838)
“Poeta i Swiat” (The Poet and the World) (1839) 
“Mistrz Twardowski”  (Master Twardowski) (1840)
“Chata za Wsią” (The Cottage outside the Village) (1841)
“Latarnia Czarnoksięska” (The Magic Lantern) (1844)
“Zygmuntowskie Czasy” (Sigismund’s Times) (1846)
“Hrabina Cosel” (The Countess Cosel) (1874)
“Stara Baśń” (An Ancient Tale) (1876) 

Biography Timeline

Józef Ignacy Kraszewski was born on 27th July 1812 in Warsaw, Poland. His father was Jan Kraszewski, a minor nobleman. He was the oldest son of five children and spent much of his childhood in Romanow with his maternal grandparents.

1822: He attends school in Bisala Podlaska.

1826: He moves to a school in Lublin for a year.

1829: He graduates from his last school, the Svislach Gymnasium (modern Belarus). He moves up to the University of Vilnius studying medicine. He writes several short stories including “Biografia Sokalskiego Organisty” (Biography of the Sokal Organist),“Kotlety. Powisc Prawdziwa” (Cutlets. The Real Powisc) and “Wieczor, Czyli Przypadki Peruki” (Evening, or Wig Cases).

1830: He changes his course of study to literature. In November he takes part in the Polish independence movement in support of the November Uprising in Poland. He is arrested on 3rd December and sent to prison but his family manage to avoid him being conscripted into the Imperial Russian Army.

1831: The first of his ninety-four novels “Pan Walery” is published.

1832: He is released from prison on 19th March and goes to live in Vilna under police supervision until July 1833.

1834: He goes to live at his father’s estate in Douhaje, Volhynia where he engages in farming and writing.

1836: He is nominated to join Kiel University as professor of Polish language, but this is blocked by the Russian government as he is seen as politically suspect. He begins to contribute articles to the “Tygodnik Petersburski” (St. Petersburg Weekly).

1837: He leases a farm in Omelno and then others in surrounding villages. 

1838: On 10th June he marries Zofia Woroniczówna, the niece of a former Bishop of Warsaw. His first collection of poetry is published entitled “Poezje” (Poems).

1839: His daughter Konstancja is born. He publishes “Poetai Swiat” (The Poet and the World).

1840: He buys land in Hubin.

1841: His son Jan is born. He begins to edit the “Ateneum” review in Vilna.  

1842: He contributes articles to “Pielgrzym”.

1843: Publication of volume two of second volume of “Poezje” (Poems).

1843: His son Franciszek is born. He visits Odessa.

1844: He publishes the novel “Latarnia Czarnoksiseka” (Magic Lantern).

1845: Besides wrting he is also a prolific illustrator and artist and composes music such as “Pastusze Piosenki”.

1846: He buys a town house in Warsaw. He completes the long poem-trilogy “Anafielis”.

1849: His daughter Augusta is born.

1851: He is offered a professorship at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow but this is vetoed by both the Russian and Austrian authorities.

1853: His family move to his wife’s family’s estate near Zhytomyr to provide a better education for his children. He publishes the novel “Interesa Familijne” (Family Business). 

1856: He becomes school superintend and director of his local Teatr Szlachty Wołyńskiej (Zhytomyr Theatre).

1857: He writes the poem “Hymny Boleści” (Hymns of Sorrow).

1858: He travels extensively visiting Austria, Belgium, Italy, Germany, and France. In Rome he is admonished by Pope Pius the Ninth for his liberal views. He becomes a corresponding member of the Krakow Scientific Society. 

1859: He returns to Warsaw where he is offered the editorship of the pro-Serf daily newspaper “Gazeta Codzienna” which he takes up in 1860 leaving his family in Zhytomyr.

1861: He becomes a member of the patriotic Delegacja Miejska organisation. Although he supports Polish Independence against the Russians he doesn’t believe in armed struggle.

1863: The Russian authorities, headed by Count Aleksander Wielopolski, force him to resign his editorship of the newspaper due to his views on censorship and banish him from the country in January. He moves to Dresden and never sees his wife again but still supports her and the family. He begins to publish his own weekly paper “Tydzień Polityczny, Naukowy, Literacki i Artystyczny” but it is too expensive to keep going for long.

1865: He visits Lviv, Kraków, Krynica, and Zakopane. He is again rejected for a professorship of Polish literature, at the Szkoła Główna Handlowa Warsaw School of Economics. 

1866: He is granted Austrian citizenship. 

1867: He is again rejected by the Jagiellonian University.

1868: He publishes an account of his travels in Europe in “Kartki z Podróży 1858–1864”. (Travels, 1858–1864). 

1869: He runs a printing press in Dresden. 

1871: He campaigns to be elected as a Deputy for the Poznań region but withdraws facing opposition from the conservative Polish clergy.

1872: He becomes a member of the Academy of Learning. He supervises the publication of works by Kazimierz Brodzinski, “Pisma”.

1873: Becoming a full-time writer he completes ten novels and two academic texts at his new villa in Dresden.

1874: He publishes the novel “Hrabina Cosel” (The Countess Cosel).

1876: He publishes “Stara Baśń” (An Ancient Tale).

1879: He receives honorary degrees from Jagiellonian University and Lviv University during October.

1880: He is denied permission to travel to Warsaw by the Russian authorities. 

1882: He helps found the Macierz Polska educational institution in Lwow.

1883: He is arrested while visiting Berlin accused of working for the French Secret Service, which he actually had since 1870.

1884: After being tried in Leipzig in May he is sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment in the prison at Magdeburg. Otto von Bismarck saw this as an opportunity to strike at the Polish faction in Germany and advocated the death sentence but this was commuted, due to strong pressure from the European press and Umberto the First, the King of Italy. 

1885: Although he is bailed to stay in Magdeburg he moves to San Remo in Italy and the Germans put out an arrest warrant. After his bail period expires, he moves on to Switzerland.

Józef Ignacy Kraszewski died of pneumonia on 19th March 1887 in the Hotel de la Paix in Geneva, Switzerland whilst on his way to his new house in Lausanne. A large funeral took place on 18th April in Krakow, Poland and he was buried in the Crypt of Merit in the Skalka (Saint Michael the Archangel and Saint Stanislaus the Bishop and Martyr Basilica).

Further Information

List of works by Kraszewski.