Authors: Ivan Vazov

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Last reviewed: June 2018

Bulgarian novelist, poet, and playwright

June 27, 1850

Sopot, Bulgaria

September 22, 1921

Sofia, Bulgaria


Ivan Minchov Vazov, for thirty years the outstanding writer in Bulgaria, was that country’s first great writer in the various creative genres of the novel, poetry, and drama. During his most influential years, from 1890 to 1920, his name was used to characterize these years as “the Vazov period.”

Ivan Vazov.

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Vazov received his elementary education in his native town of Sopot and at Plovdiv. The son of a conservative, well-to-do merchant, he enjoyed a comfortable childhood. He left Bulgaria when he was nineteen, and his first creative work, poems on patriotic and revolutionary themes, were published in Bucharest in the 1870s. During this time he made a business trip to Romania and met the revolutionary writers Lyuben Stoychev Karavelov and Khristo Botev. Inspired by them and by the prerevolutionary poet Petko Rachev Slaveykov, he decided to give up his studies and devote his work to the revolutionary cause.

After the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish rule in 1878, he returned to his country and served as judge of the circuit court in Berkovitsa. From 1886 to 1889 he was a political exile in Odessa, having opposed Stefan Nikolov Stambolov’s Bulgarian government. When he returned to Sofia he settled down to a life of prolific writing, achieving his most notable success in 1893 with the novel Under the Yoke, a story of the beginnings of the Bulgarian revolt against the Turks.

All his novels, plays, and poems were praised for expressing sympathy for the common people. On October 2, 1920, he was honored by a national jubilee celebrating his completion of fifty years of creative work. He died of a heart attack in Sofia on September 22, 1921.

Author Works Long Fiction: Uncles, 1884 Pod igoto, 1889-1890 (serial), 1893 (book; Under the Yoke, 1894) Nova zemya (New Country), 1896 Kazalarskata tsaritsa (The Empress of Kazalar), 1903 Under Our Heaven, 1900 Svetoslav terter, 1907 It Will Not Perish, 1920 Short Fiction: Selected Stories, 1967 Drama: Vagabonds, pb. 1894 Vestnikar li? (A Newspaperman?), pb. 1900 Sluzhbogontsi, pb. 1903 Borislav, pb. 1909 Ivaylo, pb. 1911 Poetry: Priaporetz and Gusla, 1876 Izbavlenie, 1878 Gusla, 1881 Epopeya na zabravenite (Epic of the Forgotten), 1881-1884 Polya i gori, 1884 Pod nasheto nebe, 1900 Pesni za makedoniya (Songs of Macedonia), 1916 Ne shte zagine, 1920 Selected Poems, 1976 Nonfiction: Velika Rilska pustina, 1904 (The Great Rila Wilderness, 1969) Bibliography Manning, Clarence Augustus. The History of Modern Bulgarian Literature. New York: Bookman Associates, 1960. Moser, Charles A. A History of Bulgarian Literature, 1865-1944. The Hague, the Netherlands: Mouton, 1972. Protokhristova, Kleo. “Ivan Vazov.” In Modern Slavic Literature, compiled by Vasa D. Mihailovich. 2 vols. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1972-1976. Protokhristova, Kleo, ed. South Slavic Writers before World War II. Vol. 147 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. New York: Gale Research, 1995.

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