Jelena Dimitrijević (1862-1945) was born in the Principality of Serbia, post Ottoman Empire, and died in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. She spent most of her long life in Serbia and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. She was 16 when Serbia gained its independence at the Congress of Berlin, after almost 500 years under the Ottoman Empire. It is known that Jelena Dimitrijević took part in the Balkan Wars, whose aim was to end the Ottoman rule on the Balkans. However, Dimitrijević’s story is not about heroic deeds, won and lost battles, nor the hatred among the colonizers and the colonized. On the contrary, it is a story of love and understanding, and curiosity. Self-educated, fluent in French, German, English, Italian and Turkish, among other languages, she was an inveterate traveler through Western and Southeastern Europe, North America, North Africa, and Asia.
Her most important works include Jelena’s Poems – The First Book 1894; the epistolary novel Letters from Niš, on Harems published in 1897; where, as a benevolent and careful observant of the female subculture in the Ottoman society, Dimitrijević presented the accounts on Turkish women which have been invaluable; Letters from Salonika were published first in 1908 in the literary journal Srpski književni glasnik (Serbian Literary Herald) and, as a book, in 1918. These letters were the base for her second novel Nove (The New Women) published in 1912 in Belgrade by the most prominent Serbian publishing house, Srpska književna zadruga. In 1934, Dimitrijević published the travelogue The New World or A Year in America (original title: Novi svet ili U Americi godinu dana), a decade and a half after the actual journey happened. The first part of the travelogue from her travels around the world, Seven Seas and Three Oceans, was published in 1940. This journey took place in 1926 and 1927, and, once again, she waited for more than a decade to publish the travelogue. She was the first Serbian world traveler and the author of the first Serbian travelogue on America.