Joseph Conrad was a Polish-British writer. Considered one of the greatest English-language novelists of all time, Conrad is credited with bringing a non-English sensibility into English-language literature. Many of his works have inspired several films, TV series, and video games. His anti-heroic characters and narrative style have influenced many authors like Salman Rushdie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and T. S. Eliot.
Polish fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski is best known for his widely translated iconic book series The Witcher, which has also been made into a Netflix series. While he initially studied economics and worked as a sales representative, he soared to fame with the short story Wiedźmin, which later became The Witcher.
Stanisław Lem was a Polish writer who specialized in the science fiction genre. He was also a noted essayist who wrote on varied subjects, including philosophy, futurology, and literary criticism. His books, which have been translated into over 50 languages, have sold more than 45 million copies worldwide. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
Olga Tokarczuk is a Polish writer and public intellectual. She is one of the most critically acclaimed authors of her generation in Poland. She was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first female Polish writer to receive the honor. Her works have been translated into almost 40 languages. She is also a clinical psychologist.
A reputed Polish doctor, Henryk Goldszmit was better known by his pseudonym, Janusz Korczak, which he used to write several children’s books. Apart from working as a pediatrician and a military doctor, he also owned a Jewish orphanage and stayed with the children while the Germans deported him and other staff to Treblinka.
Nobel Prize-winning Polish-American author Isaac Bashevis Singer is best remembered for his short stories and novels that mirrored Jewish life with a tinge of irony. Born into a family of rabbis, he got a traditional education and later became a journalist. His works include the iconic novel The Family Moskat.
Known as a rebellious director, Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski compromised on mainstream success to create a niche audience in the European art-house circle. His second film, Diabel, which depicted rape, violence, and bloodshed, was banned in Poland. He later moved to France, making films such as L’Important C’est d’Aimer.
Adam Mickiewicz was a Polish poet, dramatist, essayist, and political activist. He was a major figure in Polish Romanticism and considered one of Poland's "Three Bards." He has long been regarded as Poland's national poet and is often compared to Byron and Goethe. The vast majority of his work is available only in Polish and has been reprinted numerous times.
Polish cosmetologist and author Blanka Lipinska is best-recognised for her 365 Dni trilogy, first novel of which was adapted into an eponymous film. She co-wrote screenplay of the film and also did a cameo. English translation of first book of the trilogy was released in January 2021, while its second book titled That Day is scheduled for a 2022 release.
Slavomir Rawicz was a Polish Army lieutenant. He was imprisoned by the NKVD after the German-Soviet invasion of Poland and eventually made a miraculous escape, according to his own accounts. However, several authorities have questioned the veracity of his claims. After the war, he settled in England, married and raised a family. He later became a technician.
Henryk Sienkiewicz was a Polish journalist and novelist best remembered for his historical novels. He was the author of the internationally known best-seller Quo Vadis. Beginning his career as a journalist, he soon became one of the most popular Polish authors of his era. He was awarded the 1905 Nobel Prize in Literature for his contribution to literature.
Nobel Prize-winning Polish-American poet Czesław Miłosz, known for the iconic Poem of Frozen Time, had made a lucky escape during the German invasion of Poland but had gone back using fake documents to be with his wife, Janina. He later became a Polish diplomat and also taught in the US.
One of the best Polish authors of the 20th century, Bruno Schulz is remembered for his iconic works such as The Cinnamon Shops, a collection of short stories that had a Kafkaesque style. He was shot dead by a Nazi officer while returning home with a loaf of bread.
Wisława Szymborska was a Polish poet, essayist, and translator. In 1996, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her poetry. Her works have been translated into numerous languages, including English, Arabic, Japanese, Hebrew, and Chinese. She also translated French literature, especially Baroque poetry, into Polish. She actively wrote until her death at the age of 88.
L. L. Zamenhof was an ophthalmologist best remembered for creating the most widely spoken international auxiliary language, Esperanto. He came up with the constructed language after being consumed by the idea of a warless world. L. L. Zamenhof received several honors for creating Esperanto, including the Légion d'honneur. He also received 12 nominations for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.
Hilary Koprowski was a Polish virologist and immunologist. He spent the majority of his career in USA and created an effective live polio vaccine. He also contributed significantly to the development of an improved rabies vaccine. He was the author or co-author of over 875 scientific papers. He was the recipient of many awards, including the Albert Sabin Gold Medal.
Raphael Lemkin was a Polish lawyer best remembered for coining the term genocide. He is also credited with initiating the Genocide Convention, an international treaty criminalizing genocide. Interestingly, no such international law existed before Lemkin initiated the Genocide Convention. Raphael Lemkin’s work inspired American sociologist and feminist scholar Jessie Bernard whose book American Community Behavior is based on Lemkin's work.
Globally reputed Polish journalist, photographer, poet and author Ryszard Kapuściński was the only correspondent of the Communist-era Polish Press Agency in Africa at the time of decolonization. Notable works of Kapuściński, who was considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, includes Another Day of Life, The Emperor, Imperium and The Shadow of the Sun..
Antonina Zabinska worked as a Warsaw Zoo director along with her husband, Jan. She was also a promising author. During World War II, she and her husband sheltered countless Jews in their zoo. Her story, penned in her own diary, Ludzie i zwierzęta, later inspired Diane Ackerman’s book The Zookeeper's Wife.
Enamoured by the ideas of French and German philosophers, Ferdinand Lassalle initially aspired to be a lecturer. He later joined the socialist cause and spearheaded Germany’s social democratic movement. He also introduced terms such as the iron law of wages and concepts such as Lassallism, or achieving socialist ideals through the state.
Polish author, painter, and dramatist Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz of the Awangarda Krakowska movement was part of the Australian expedition of anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, as an artist. He had also worked in the Russian Army. He committed suicide at the onset of World War II, though many believe he had faked his own death.
Czeslaw Niemen was a Polish singer-songwriter, keyboard player, and composer. He gained notoriety during the 1960s for his revolutionary music, such as the 1967 song Strange Is This World, which was considered the most prominent Polish protest song of that time. Czeslaw Niemen’s life and career have inspired several documentaries, including Krzysztof Magowski's 2014 film A Dream About Warsaw.
Born to a poor but generous innkeeper, Sholem Asch grew up to be one of the best-known Yiddish authors in the world. The Polish-born American writer, known for novels such as Uncle Moses and Chaim Lederer’s Return, also penned the play The God of Vengeance, which was banned everywhere except in Germany.
Polish-born American historian Richard Pipes is best known for his extensive research on Soviet history. His books depict the violence and terror of Russian politics and express his contempt toward communism and Lenin. He was also part of an American team to investigate Soviet weapon expansion plans.
Orphaned at age 9, Bolesław Prus had a tough childhood. He later participated in the January Insurrection and then became a successful journalist. A talented author of short stories, such as The Waistcoat, and novels, such as The Doll, he was part of the Polish positivist literary movement.
While German mathematician Felix Hausdorff initially wished to become a musician, parental pressure led him to choose math. Considered one of the pioneers of modern topology, he made major contributions to set theory and functional analysis. He died of suicide, along with his wife and sister-in-law, instead of moving to a Nazi camp.
Avraham Stern was one of the most important leaders of Irgun, a Zionist paramilitary organization. The members of this organization were recruited by the Israel Defense Forces at the beginning of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Avraham Stern is also credited with founding Lehi, a Zionist terrorist organization that aimed at evicting British authorities from Palestine.
Though trained as a tailor, Władysław Stanisław Reymont never worked as one and joined a traveling theater instead. He later devoted himself to writing and gained fame with novels such as The Promised Land and Revolt. His 4-volume novel The Peasants won him the Nobel Prize and was also filmed.
Juliusz Słowacki was a Polish Romantic poet. Counted among the Three Bards of Polish literature, Słowacki is often referred to as the father of modern Polish drama. However, Juliusz Słowacki was not popular during his lifetime and none of his dramas were performed on stage. His works were popularized after his death by the writers of the Young Poland period.
Stanisław Wyspiański was a Polish poet, playwright, and painter. He was one of the most patriotic writers of the Young Poland Movement and is best remembered for creating several symbolic, national dramas. Stanisław Wyspiański is sometimes referred to as the Fourth Bard of Polish literature.
Jan Kochanowski was a Polish Renaissance poet whose poetic patterns became a key component of the Polish literary language. Kochanowski is considered the greatest Polish poet before the arrival of Adam Bernard Mickiewicz. Jan Kochanowski is best remembered for his magnum opus Treny, a series of 19 elegies on the demise of his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Urszula.
Polish writer and painter Roma Ligocka, who fled from the Kraków Ghetto during German occupation of Poland in Second World War, is best known for her works as a successful set designer in theatre, film and television, and for her memoir The Girl in the Red Coat. Other novels of Ligocka include Znajoma z lustre and Kobieta w podróży.
Known for his bestselling legal thriller books, such as the Joanna Chyłka series, Polish author Remigiusz Mroz has sold millions of copies. A PhD in law, he quit his legal career to devote himself to writing. Often compared to the works of Stephen King, his books have also been adapted for TV.
Tadeusz Borowski was a Polish journalist and writer. His wartime stories and poetry highlighting his experiences as a prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp are regarded as classics of Polish literature. His works also had a significant influence in Central European society. Tadeusz Borowski's writings inspired the 1970 Polish movie Landscape After the Battle.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec was a Polish poet and aphorist. Best remembered for his skeptical philosophical-moral aphorisms and lyric poetry, Lec is counted among the 20th century's most influential aphorists. He is also widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of post-war Poland. Before the advent of World War II, Stanisław Jerzy Lec had founded a satirical magazine called Szpilki.
Julian Tuwim was a Polish poet who co-founded a group of experimental poets called Skamander along with his contemporaries like Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz and Antoni Słonimski. A popular and influential figure in Polish literature, Tuwim was also admired for his immense contribution to children's literature. In 1935, Julian Tuwim was honored with the Polish Academy of Literature's prestigious Golden Laurel award.
Zbigniew Herbert was a Polish poet, drama writer, essayist, and moralist. One of the most translated and best known post-war Polish writers, Herbert received several nominations for the prestigious Nobel Prize in literature during his lifetime. Zbigniew Herbert did receive several other prestigious awards such as the Kościelski Prize, Jurzykowski Prize, Herder Prize, and Austrian State Prize for European Literature.
Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski was a Polish writer, anticommunist political activist, university professor, and explorer. He is remembered for his participation in the Russian Civil War and the books that he wrote about the war and Lenin. Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski also contributed immensely to the underground education and postwar learning programs in Poland.
Agnieszka Osiecka was a Polish poet, playwright, TV writer, film director, and journalist. Widely regarded as an icon of Polish culture, Osiecka was also a prolific songwriter, having penned the lyrics of over 2000 songs. Thanks to her large body of work, Osiecka is regarded as one of the most prolific and important persons in postwar Polish history and culture.
Adam Zagajewski was a Polish poet, essayist, translator, and novelist. A prominent poet of the Polish New Wave and one of the most important contemporary poets from Poland, Adam Zagajewski was honored with several prestigious awards such as the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, Griffin Poetry Prize for Lifetime Achievement, and Princess of Asturias Award.
Maciej Maleńczuk is a Polish guitarist, vocalist, and poet. He is best known for his song Vladimir which went viral in several Discord servers in late 2018, earning Maleńczuk worldwide fame. Maciej Maleńczuk is also known for his association with his former music groups Homo Twist and Püdelsi where he was the leader.