The page of Sienkiewicz, Henryk, English biography
BiographyHenryk Adam Aleksander Pius Oszyk-Sienkiewicz (May 5, 1846 - November 15, 1916) was a Polish novelist, one of the outstanding writers of the second half of the 19th century.
Sienkiewicz was born to a well-to-do family in Wola Okrzejska, a town in Russian-ruled Poland. A Polish patriot to the core, Sienkiewicz created historical novels that extolled the valiant men and brave deeds of the former Rzeczpospolita. His patriotism shows also in the negative way he portrays The Teutonic Knights, during a time when many of his readers lived in the German Empire.
Serializing his novels in newspapers, he became immensely popular and beloved in his time and, over a century later, is still highly valued by readers of prose. In Poland he is best known for his colorful historical novels (The Trilogy) depicting the derring-do of Polish heroes in the 17th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while abroad, for his novel, Quo Vadis, set in the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. His only relative now lives in Australia.
Sienkiewicz had a way with language. In the trilogy, for instance, he had his characters use Polish language as it was spoken in seventeenth century. In Krzyżacy, which relates to the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, he even had his characters speak a variety of medieval Polish which he recreated by utilizing many of the archaic expressions then still common among the highlanders of Podhale.
Quo Vadis has been filmed several times, most notably the 1951 version.
He won the 1905 Nobel Prize in literature "because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer."
Generations later, Alexander Victor Sienkiewicz (one of the few relatives of Henryk Sienkiewicz), has been heavily promoting Henryk’s work in the United States, a land where he is not widely known.