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Narcyza Zmichovska
(March 4, 1819 - December 25, 1876) Poland

Narcyza Zmichovska



Narcyza was born in Warsaw to a not very rich, albeit noble, family. Her father was Jan and he took part in rebellion under Kos'ciuszko. Her mother was Wiktoria z Kiedrzyn'skych and died after her birth. So she was educated by kinsmen, ending up in the school of Zuzanna Wilczyn'ska and the Guwernantek State School for Girls in Warsaw in 1835, eventually working there as a teacher.

She did not have enough money to start her own school and her father's job did not pay well enough to allow him to support her. So, in 1838 she left for Paris with the Zamoyski family. In Reims she met her brother who emigrated because of his political activity.

In 1839 she got to know the group of young writers from which later would grow the "Enthusiasts". Narcyza was a poet and a journalist (working on Bluszcz - an illustrated women's weekly which propagated women's emancipation), a textbook and novel writer as well as a translator. Narcyza was a true democrat and was totally engaged in the struggle for women's emancipation. The Enthusiasts (1840 - 1850) were one of the first groups to push for women's rights in Poland.

In 1843 for the first time Narcyza was in Poznan where she wanted to found a school for Polish girls, but the Prussian authority did not permit her to do so. There she met Bibiana Moraczwska and Julia Woykowska. In 1846 she returned to Warsaw where she continued her illegal activity, helping prisoners and teaching of workers.

Narcyza was arrested and spent 3 years in nunnery in Lublin. After returning to Warsaw she became interested in education for women. She started courses for young women. In 1861 some of her works were printed. After 1862 she was a teacher of geography, so she had some money.

In her articles published in the press, she advocated for women schools. In 1867 Narcyza visited Paris. She wrote Men's Letters: A Source of Knowledge; or This Time For Us. In 1846 she wrote her best-known novel Poganka (Pagan) , in 1861 Biala rosa (A White Rose) and in 1877 Czy tp powies'c'. She was a subject of sharp attacks from religious critics.

Narcyza never married, and spent the end of her life in poverty, until she died in Warsaw.


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