Elin Pelin Biography

Elin Pelin was a Bulgarian novelist. This biography profiles his childhood, life, literary career, achievements and timeline

Quick Facts

Birthday: July 8, 1877

Nationality: Bulgarian

Famous: Poets Novelists

Died At Age: 72

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Dimitar Ivanov Stoyanov

Born in: Bailovo

Famous as: Writer


father: Ivan Stoyanov

mother: Stoyanka Ivanova

Died on: December 3, 1949

place of death: Sofia

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Elin Pelin was a Bulgarian novelist whose work helped bring his country's literary tradition to the world. He was born to a large family in a small village near Sofia, Bulgaria, during a critical time in European history. The second Industrial Revolution was disrupting many long-held traditions and changing the landscape, (both literally and figuratively) as well as society. He started writing from an early age and studied to become a teacher. He taught for a short time before his first book got published, which was received well by critics. Thereafter, he moved to the city of Sofia to become a librarian there. In addition to his time as a librarian, he edited and contributed to several magazines and continued writing fiction, producing his most well-known works, including several books, short stories and children's literature. His primary focus was detailing life in the countryside in its actual form - he is noted for his vivid descriptions and evocative portraits of pastoral living. He tackled the friction between traditional country living and the new industrial standards imposing on this lifestyle. His legacy extends far beyond his time - his works have been tapped for multiple films and his name has been immortalized as a town in Bulgaria and a landmark in Europe have adopted his namesake

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Upon finishing school, he taught in his village in 1895. He worked as a teacher for a year before moving on to writing full-time.
  • He wrote his first published short story in 1901 and, during this time, assumed the pen name Elin Pelin.
  • In 1903, based on the reception of his first short story, he moved to Sofia to become a librarian. This career move allowed him to travel and write extensively.
  • He became the director of special collections at the National Library in Sofia in 1910.
  • While serving as director at the library, he was also the editor and contributor at multiple magazines.
  • During World War I, he worked as a war correspondent.
  • He took a position at the Vazov Museum in 1924 where he served until his retirement in 1944.
  • He helped establish a literary periodical called Razvigor.
  • During his career at the library and museum, he continued to write prolifically, composing many books, short stories, poems and children's stories. His short stories particularly resonate with Bulgarian tradition and are very popular in his home country.
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Major Works
  • His most famous work was 'The Gerak Family' which dealt with the transformation of a rural town to a modern society as experienced personally. He drew on his own life experience to illustrate the story. This work exemplified his place at the forefront of Bulgarian literature and was also the subject of films.
  • In 1922, his book 'Earth' came out and served as a commentary on Bulgarian society and norms. It was also adapted into multiple movies.
  • He has written multiple short stories and collections of poems. His most well-known short story is 'Pizho and Penda.' It references the pagan tradition of Martenitsa where symbolic dolls are gifted among friends and family.
Awards & Achievements
  • The Union of Bulgarian Writers named him president of the organization in 1940 for his distinguished work advancing Bulgarian literature.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • He pioneered the field of Bulgarian children's literature and was one of the best known Bulgarian writers. He spotlighted the dichotomy and often opposition between a technologically advancing society and the old ways of rural and country living.
  • Some of his works demonstrate his sense of humor with playful themes and plots.
  • He died on December 3, 1949 of unknown causes in Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • Elin Pelin is a pen name he assumed in the early 1900s and is translated as wormwood from Bulgarian.
  • Bulgaria named the town of Elin Pelin, previously known as Novoseltsi, after him.
  • He also has a landmark on Smith Island of the South Shetland Islands named after him - Elin Pelin Point

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Elin Pelin

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