EWL News

Zagorka: an amazing Croatian feminist writer

(Zagreb, 2 July 2013) During the General Assembly, EWL members had a unique opportunity to visit the headquarters of the “Center for Women’s studies” in Zagreb situated in the former apartment of Marija Juri? Zagorka, the first female Croatian journalist and among the most read writers in Croatia.

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Center for Women’s Studies is the first and only center of this kind in Croatia. It was founded in 1995 by a group of theoreticians and scientists, feminists, peace activists and artists. The Center for Women’s Studies develops multi/interdisciplinary studies and expert knowledge on women’s issues, and is a meeting place for academic discourse, activist engagement and artistic practice. Its main activities include education, research, publishing, and is home library, cultural events, public advocacy of the politics of gender equality and women’s studies.

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Center for women studies has one of the riches feminist libraries in Croatia

Marija Juri? Zagorka

Born on the 2nd of March 1873 in the village of Negovec to a wealthy family, Marija Juri? Zagorka attended monastery school in Varazdin and Zagreb (at this time, still rare for a girl) where she founded her first student newspaper. She married a Hungarian railway clerk 14 years her senior at a young age and left Croatia and stopped her education. But even at this young age, she had only one dream - to become a political journalist. Her husband threatened to send her to a mental hospital, Zagorka decided to escape and return to Croatia.

For years she worked secretly in Zagreb, writing political articles under a male pseudonym. Her articles soon became appreciated by the leading newspaper. In 1896, having written a political article and anonymously submitting it to the Hungarian opposition newspapers, she caused a commotion and conflict in the Hungarian government itself. She entered the newsroom but she was still constrained to write under a fake male name.

At the beginning of the 20th century, she started to publish novels that combined romance with actual events in Croatia (and in Europe) presenting issues regarding the role of women in society. Her ‘female’ centered literature became extremely popular. She was also an author of many theatrical plays dealing with women’s issues and trying to present the difficult living conditions many women faced.

In addition to numerous novels, Zagorka founded “Women’s Papers”, the first magazine in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to focus on women’s issues. Fascinated by historical Zagreb, she set many of her most popular novels, such as the Witch of Gric, in Gradec (Upper Town) and Kaptol, the two towns that would eventually merge and become Croatia’s capital. She died in Zagreb in 1957 at the age of 84. Marija Juri? Zagorka was the first female journalist in Croatia and one of the very few at that time in Europe.

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The original typing machine of Marija Juri? Zagorka

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Touching Zagorka’s typing machine brings wisdom and luck!

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