Childhood & Early Life
Ivo Andric was born as Ivan Andric to Antun Andric and Katarina Pejic, in Travnic. His father was a coppersmith who died due to tuberculosis when Andric was just two years old. So, he was brought up by his kin and did his elementary schooling in Visegrad.
In 1903, he joined his mother in Sarajevo and completed his secondary education from the Sarajevo Grammar School.
He started writing poetry at a tender age and in 1911, his first poem, ‘U sumrak’ (At Twilight) was published in the ‘Bosanska vila’ (Bosnian Fairy).
He obtained a scholarship from the Croatian cultural-educational society in 1912 and subsequently studied at Royal University, in Zagreb.
In 1913, he enrolled at the University of Vienna, where he studied literature, philosophy, and history. The weather of Vienna further increased the sensitivity of his lungs, a genetic problem, and as a result, he suffered from pneumonia.
With the help of his patron and secondary school professor Tugomir Alaupovic, he studied at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, in 1914. This was the time when he got his works published in the compendium, ‘Hrvatska Mlada lirika’ (Young Croatian Lyricist).
As he was a part of a revolutionary organization, he was arrested upon his return to Sarajevo on the allegation of his involvement in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. He was detained in jail until March 1915.
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In October 1919, he was employed as a civil servant with the ‘Ministry of Religion’ in Belgrad.
In 1920, his collection of poems titled ‘Nemiri’ and the short story, ‘Put Alije Djerzeleza’ was published.
During his time in service, he worked at the ‘Holy See’ and was appointed to the Legation of the Vatican. The next year, he was employed with the General Consulate of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in Bucharest.
In 1922, he was reassigned to the Consulate in Trieste and the following year, he worked in the Consulate of Graz but his job with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was at stake, as he had not completed his degree.
This made him enroll at the Faculty of Philosophy in Graz and in 1924; he was able to retain his career by defending his doctorate thesis, ‘The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia Under the Influence of Turkish Rule’.
By the end of 1924, he was transferred to the Political Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade. The same year his first anthology of short stories was published by the Serbian Literary Association titled, ‘U zindanu’ and ‘Rzavski bregovi’.
In 1926, he became the member of the Serbian Academy of Science and Art and the same year, his stories, ‘Mara milosnic’ and 'Cudo u Olovu’ were published.
He served in the Consulates of Paris and Marseilles, in 1927 and spent most of his free time reading history related to Bosnia and reading the mail of Pierre David, the French diplomat in Travnik.
In 1930, he wrote an essay on Simon Bolivar and his travel story, ‘Portugal, zelena zemlja’. Two years later, he published another collection of short-stories including, ‘Smrt u Sinanovoj tekiji’, ‘Na ladi’, ‘Leteci nad morem’.
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In 1935, he headed the political department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The same year, short-stories like, ‘Bajron u Sintri’ and ‘Deca’, were published.
His diplomatic career was ascending and he was appointed as deputy minister of foreign affairs in November 1937. Despite being bestowed with tremendous responsibilities, he still managed to publish ‘Trup’ and ‘Likovi’.
He remained a Yugoslav ambassador to Berlin in Germany until the German invasion in 1941. He retired from the diplomatic services and refused to leave occupied Belgrade.
From 1941 to 1945, he penned his most important novels yet: ‘Travnicka hronika’, ‘Na Drini cuprija’ and ‘Gospodica’. Post-World War II, he was appointed as the president of the ‘Yugoslav Writers Association’.
Through the 50s, he published a number of short-stories including, ‘Bife Titanik’, ‘Znakovi’, ‘Zeko’ and ‘Pod grabicem’.
After his wife passed away in 1968, he became more of a recluse and stopped involving himself with social activities. Just before his death, he grew very ill and spent the last few years of his life alone.
His book ‘Omer-Pasha Latas’ was published posthumously in 1977.
‘Travnicka hronika’ relates the relentless struggle of Bosnian nationals and their refusal to surrender to outsiders. The novel was set in the Napoleonic time spanning 1807 to 1814 and is marked with the Tolstoyan spirit of conflict between reality and loyalty.
Inspired by a medieval bridge that stood by the river in Vienna, he wrote the much acclaimed novel, ‘Na Drini cuprija’. The bridge stands as the symbol of nexus between the mixed populations of the town.
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One of his acclaimed works ‘Gospodica’ is centered on the character of Miss Raika Radakovic, a spinster who is obsessed with profound stinginess that results in her loss of friendship, love, and to meet her fate solitarily with no one to love and care.
Awards & Achievements
He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961, after the publication of ‘Na Drini cuprija’.
In recognition to his talent, the University of Jagiellonian awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in 1964.
He became an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1969.
In 1972, an honorary doctorate degree was awarded to him by the University of Belgrade.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1958, he married his long time love, Milica Babic-Andric; who was a costume designer at the National Theater in Belgrade and the widow of Nenad Jovanovic.
Owing to ill-health, he passed away in Belgrade. He was interred in Belgrade New Cemetery.
His native house in Travnik is maintained as a Museum and the Belgrade flat he lived in has been transformed into the Museum.