5 May, 2021

Henryk Sienkiewicz – writer, Nobel laureate

Henryk Sienkiewicz (Polish Henryk Sienkiewicz) was born on May 5, 1846 in the village of Wola-Oksheyska, into a poor gentry family. In 1866-1870 he studied at the University of Warsaw at the Faculty of Medicine and History and Philology.

His very first story “In vain” about the Polish uprising of 1863 was published in 1872. All early works of the writer were devoted to the patriarchal life of Polish peasants. In 1882 he edited the conservative newspaper Slovo, where he became imbued with the troubles of the Polish nation and became its true patriot. All subsequent literary works of Senkevich are dedicated to the all-pervading love for their homeland and pride in it.

Having visited the USA in 1876-1879, Senkevich published “Letters from a Journey”. Upon his return to Europe, he lived for some time in Paris, in 1879 he was in Lvov, then he visited Venice and Rome. Since then, he traveled a lot, changing his place of residence many times – Austria, England, Italy, Lithuania, France, Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Egypt … With the outbreak of the First World War, Senkevich moved to Switzerland.

He became known to readers all over the world thanks to his novels “Fire and Sword” (1883-1884), “The Flood” (1884-1886), “Pan Volodyevsky” (1887-1888), “Crusaders” (1897-1900).

The most striking and readable of his work is the epic “Kamo Gryadeshi”, written in 1894-1896. The epic realistically shows the struggle of the first Christians with the Roman emperor Nero. Henryk Sienkiewicz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1905 for his novel “Kamo Gryadeshi”.

Sienkiewicz’s last novel, Legions, about the participation of Polish soldiers in Napoleon’s wars, was never finished.

On November 15, 1916, the life of the great writer-historian Henrik Sienkiewicz ended in the Swiss city of Vevey. In 1924, the writer’s ashes were transferred to Warsaw and buried in the crypt of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Sienkiewicz’s work played an important role in the history of Polish culture and gained worldwide recognition. During his lifetime, he became one of the most famous and popular Polish writers, both at home and abroad. For example, his novel “Quo vadis” was translated into more than forty languages, the novel “Without dogma” (1889-1890) was highly appreciated by L. Tolstoy, N. Leskov, A. Chekhov, M. Gorky and other Russian writers. Most of Senkevich’s novels were subsequently filmed.