Adam Mickiewicz

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Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Mickiewicz
Birthday/Birthplace Adam Bernard Mickiewicz
(1798-12-24)24 December 1798
Zaosie, Lithuania Governorate, Russian Empire
Deceased 26 November 1855(1855-11-26)
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Resting place Wawel Cathedral, Kraków
Profession(s) Poet, dramatist, essayist, professor of literature
Language Polish
Genre Romanticism
Notable works Pan Tadeusz
Spouse Celina Szymanowska (1834–55; six children; her death)


Adam Mickiewicz de Poraj (Nowogródek, Poland, December 24, 1798 – Constantinople, November 26, 1855) was a Polish poet and patriot, whose work marks the beginning of Romanticism in his country. He is known above all as the author of the dramatic poem Dziady and the national epic Pan Tadeusz, which is considered the last great epic of the Polish-Lithuanian nobility.

There is a great debate about the poet’s nationality. Some Poles claim Adam Mickiewicz as a Polish author since he wrote in that language, as well as being buried in Krakow. Others call it Lithuanian since at the beginning of the Pan Tadeusz epic, it begins with the phrase “Oh, Lithuania”. The term “Lithuania” used by Mickiewicz refers more to a geographical region than to a country. Mickiewicz had been raised in the culture of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, a multicultural state that had occupied most of what are now the independent countries of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine; while the Belarusians claim it based on the physical place where he was born, currently in Belarus.

Adam Mickiewicz’s Biography

Adam Mickiewicz was born December 24, 1798, on his paternal uncle’s estate in Zaosie, near Nowogródek, in what was then part of the Russian Empire and is now Belarus. The region was on the periphery of Lithuania and had been part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania until the third partition (1795). The poet’s father, Mikołaj Mickiewicz, a lawyer, was Polish and a member of the Polish nobility (szlachta). Adam’s mother was Barbara Mickiewicz, and he was teaching him during his childhood in Nowogródek.

In September 1815, Mickiewicz enrolled at the Imperial University in Vilna (Polish, Wilno), studying to become a teacher. After graduating, he taught at a secondary school in Kaunas until 1823. In 1818 he published his first poem: “Zima miejska” (“Winter City”). His first relevant work was “Grażyna”, translated into more than fifteen languages.

Throughout his life he fought for the independence of Poland with respect to Russia, from where he was exiled from 1824 for his revolutionary activities during his student days. He was traveling in Europe, to settle in France as a professor of literature at the College of France. He had previously met Zygmunt Krasiński (considered one of the Three Bards) in Genoa, during a trip he made with his friend Antoni Edward Odyniec throughout Italy. He was also in Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig (he even got into a conversation with Goethe).

His poems address Polish nationalist themes and present a heroic, albeit melodramatic, image of the human soul, and a Byronian vision of freedom and heroism. His works have been translated into most European languages. Among those translated into Spanish are the epic poems Grażyna (1823) and Pan Tadeusz (1834), the dramatic poem Dziady (The ancestors, 1823), and the historical poem Konrad Wallenrod (1828), which is the story of a patriotic revenge , as a result of which he had to leave Russia and settle in Paris.

In the 1830s he worked on a science fiction work, L’histoire d’avenir (A History of the Future), where he predicted inventions similar to radio and television. Written in French, it was never completed and was partially destroyed by the author. During the Crimean War, he moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul), in the Ottoman Empire, as representative of the French Government. Together with Michał Czajkowski, he prepared the intervention of the Polish army in the war, supporting the Ottoman camp against Russia. Mickiewicz returned ill, and died on November 26. The cause of death is unknown, although all indications are that he was poisoned by political enemies.

The remains of Adam Mickiewicz were taken back to Poland on July 4, 1861, after being previously buried in Montmorency (France) and was buried in the Wawel Cathedral, in Krakow, resting place of the vast majority of Polish politicians and artists of great prestige.

More Facts about Adam Mickiewicz

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