Ivana Brlić Mažuranić

(1874 – 1938)
children's writer and first women member of the Yugoslav Academy of Science and Arts

Ivana Mažuranić was born on 18 April 1874 in Ogulin. Her was mother Henrietta (née Bernath) from a Varaždin family, while her father Vladimir was the son of the first Croatian “commoner” ban (Viceroy) Ivan Mažuranić. During her childhood, Ivana’s family moved several times: to Karlovac, Jastrebarsko and Zagreb, where she spent most of her childhood and adolescence. Her grandfather Ivan Mažuranić was a famous Croatian writer, which must have influenced Ivana’s talent as well. When she was 12 year old, her native Ogulin and its landscape inspired her to write her first poem: To the Star of My Homeland.

When she was 18 year old, she married Vatroslav Brlić and moved with him to Slavonski Brod. She gave birth to seven children. She was a very caring and devoted mother and wife, which was in direct conflict with her literary ambitions which were suppressed for the most part. However, as her children grew, so did her literary spark, which was now aimed at the topics of children and up-bringing. Her first book was published in 1902 and it was self-published. The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice, a children’s novel published in 1913, gave her public recognition, but she became most praised for her collection of fairy tales called Croatian Tales of Long Ago. This collection was first published in 1916. In the years to come she published more fairy tales, poems and other books. Many of them were translated into various foreign languages; e.g. Croatian Tales of Long Ago were translated into English already in 1924.

Ivana was a member of Pen, but also a first female to be a member of the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences (abbr. JAZU). She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature twice (and suggested as a candidate for nomination two more times). Ivana died in Zagreb on 21 September 1938, but her works outlived her and represent her and Croatia in the best possible light until this very day.

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