Bolesław Prus 1847–1912

His real name was Aleksander Głowacki. He was born on 20 August 1847 in Hrubieszów in an impoverished family; his father was an estate manager. Early orphaned, he grew up with his distant relatives in Puławy, Lublin, and Siedlce where he attended the lower secondary school and then moved to Kielce under the care of his older brother Leon, a history teacher and activist of the “red” faction. Under his influence, Prus joined the January Uprising. Wounded at Siedlce, he found himself in hospital, and later in prison, but was released after a fairly short period due to his young age. Having returned to Lublin, he graduated from the upper secondary school with excellent grades and went to Warsaw, where in 1866 he passed entrance exams to the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at the Main School. He abandoned his studies after two years, but nevertheless continued his own research, especially related to logic, until the rest of his life. On his own in Warsaw, he took on various work: from giving private lessons to working at the Lilpop and Rau factory. Having already made himself known as a news correspondent and satirist, he became a permanent contributor to Warsaw positivist magazines: Opiekun Domowy [“Home Carer”] and Niwa [“Lea”] where he published, among others, a widely read article on electricity under his pen name Bolesław Prus (1872). He also wrote for satirical magazines: Mucha [“Fly”] and Kolce [“Thorns”]. In 1875, he started a series of weekly columns in the Warsaw Courier, which continued almost uninterruptedly until 1911. Those columns, which were collected in the 20 volumes of Kroniki [“Chronicles”] published after World War II, reflected Prus’s views on social, national and artistic questions. His social activism manifested itself, among others, in the founding of the Bolesław Prus Society of Practical Hygiene (1897) and in his active involvement in the work of the Citizens’ Committee for Assistance to Workers (1905). Bolesław Prus died on 19 March 1912 in Warsaw. His greatest novels include Lalka [“The Doll”] (1890) and Faraon [“Pharaoh”] (1897).


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