Henryk Sienkiewicz

19 Mar 2020  Thu

Henryk Sienkiewicz; also known by his pen name Litwos, was a Polish epic writer, journalist, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1905. His novels are a must-read for school children and teenagers in contemporary Poland.

Sienkiewicz was born on 5th May 1846 into an impoverished Polish noble family. His parents were Jozef Sienkiewicz of the Oszyk coat of arms and Stefania Cieciszowska. His mother descended from an old and affluent Podlachian family. His first novel, Na Marne (In Vain), was published in 1872, and his first short story, “Stary sluga” (An Old Retainer), in 1875.

Many of his epics were used as scripts for movies, including international productions such as the 2001 version of In Desert and Wilderness directed by Gavin Hood, and 1951 version of Quo Vadis directed by Mervyn Le Roy, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

In 1905 he received the most prestigious award in the world of literature, the Nobel Prize, after having been nominated in that year by Hans Hildebrand, member of the Swedish Academy. Portrait of Henryk Sienkiewicz featured on the banknote of 500,000. The backside of the banknote features Sienkiewicz’s trilogy, in the form of three books on a shield along with crossed sabers and military flags.

The three open books represent a Henryk Sienkiewicz trilogy, comprising: With Fire and Sword (Ogniem i mieczem, 1884), The Deluge (Potop, 1886), and Fire in the Steppe (Pan Wolodyjowski, 1888).

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