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150th anniversary of the birth of Stefan Żeromski

Stefan Żeromski was born on 14 October 1864 in Strawczyn (currently the province of Świętokrzyskie), died on 20 November 1925 in Warsaw. Buried at the Evangelical Reformed Cemetery in Warsaw. He was one of Poland’s most eminent prose writers and playwrights; a writer convinced of a special mission of the man of letters, his responsibility for shaping the nation’s and fatherland’s fate. He was writing under various pen names, e.g. Maurycy Zych, Józef Katerla.

Żeromski was born to a family of impoverished gentry. He spent his childhood and early youth in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. In 1874-1886 he attended the State Gymnasium for Boys in Kielce; at present the building seats the Museum of Stefan Żeromski’s School Years, a branch of the National Museum in Kielce. Subsequently, he went to Warsaw, where he started studies at the Veterinary School. However, difficult material conditions forced him to give up studies and take up the work of a private tutor.

The first works by Żeromski put to print were written at the time of his studies – these were poems. In 1895 two collections of prose were published: Stories and Ravens and Crows will Peck us to Pieces… His best known pieces include The Labours of Sisyphus, Homeless People, Ashes, The Wages of Sin and The Faithful River. In his final years he wrote Snoberry and Progress, a collection of stories Mistakes, a novel Seedtime and a poem in prose The Fir Forest.

„The last eulogist of Poland’s history”, as Żeromski was called by Józef Ujejski, the outstanding historian of Polish Romanticism, apart from literary work devoted his time to social work. He was founding schools, universities and libraries. He actively contributed to the organization of cultural and literary events. The laureate of numerous prizes, he was also shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in literature. His works have been translated into a number of languages, as well as adapted for the stage and the screen.

After Żeromski’s death, the most outstanding Polish writers – J. Lechoń, A. Słonimski, J. Tuwim, L. Staff – paid him a tribute in their works.

Sylwia Zacharz
Director of the Museum of Stefan Żeromski’s School Years,
Branch of the National Museum in Kielce