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Jan Lechon
(1899 - June 8, 1956) Poland

Jan Lechon

Writer

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Jan LechonBorn Laszek Józef Serafimowicz, the secoond of three boys of a middling gentry intelligentsia of Warsaw, he débuted as a poet at the age 13. By 1916, when he began studying philology at the University of Warsaw, he was already the author of two collections of poetry and a one-act play that had been performed by some of Warsaw's leading actors.

His success ganed him entry into Poland's cultural and ruling élites. Fame, however, exacted its price on the emotiionally unstable youth, contributing to a nervous breackdown and an attemped suicide. A troubled homosexual affair influenced Lechon's decison to abandon his beloved Warsaw in 1930. He then became an unofficial cultural attaché with the Polish embassy in Paris, where he remained until 1939.

The outbreack of the war forced Lechon to flee Paris. He made his way to Portugal, Brazil, and finally New York City, where he settled in 1941. During the course of the war he wrote a number of patriotic poems. Jan LechonAt the same time, he contributed to the propaganda effort of the Polish government in exile in London, with whose anti-communist cultural institutions he would be connected for the rmainder of his life.

Upon the suggestion of a psychiatrist, Lechon began keeping a diary (1949-56), arguably his most fascinating literary creation. Amidst recondite autobiographical reminiscences, the diary is also a document of Lechon's attempt to come to terms with his homosexuality.

Oppressed by a sense of émigré obsolescence and poetic sterility, and by his homosexuality in an America beset by McCartism, Lechon jumped to his death from a Manhattan hotel window.

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Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001

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