If you ask any Croatian person, which woman from all of Croatian past they would describe as most notable, chances are Marija Jurić Zagorka will be the most common name you’ll hear. She was the author of several novels that never had a drop in popularity among audiences of all ages and the first female journalist in Croatia.
Despite her popularity and strong symbolism, Zagorka was truly a character of a sad life story in an endless search for love.
Marija was born in the region of Zagorje in 1873. Into an important and wealthy family.
Although having all the material requirements for a happy childhood, her growing up was anything but happy.
Her parents were very strict and not fond of her idea of the liberation of a woman through education and earning money through independence and hard work.
She was an excellent student and even had an opportunity to continue her studies in Switzerland, but her parents wouldn’t let her go and pushed her into a negotiated marriage when she was only 16 years old and moved to Hungary. The marriage didn’t last long, and she divorced her abusive husband.
When she came back to Croatia, she started working as a journalist for several newspapers and magazines. She wrote everything, from political articles, descriptions of travels, biographic shorts, etc., but she was most famous for her novels in weekly parts.
People were amazed at how the stories were exciting and well-written and couldn’t wait for the sequels. Nobody except her colleagues didn’t know who the author of those novels was since she wrote them under a pseudonym.
She was also very active in the political life of that time, and carefully kept track of all political situations that were happening in the Austro-Hungarian Empire since Croatia was a part of it. The woman that was so vocal about her beliefs raised enough suspicion from the central government to even put her in jail in one period.
After returning to Zagreb,she continued to work as a journalist but this time in more informal papers that were more about entertainment.
She was the founder of the first two women’s magazines in Croatia and her novels contained elements of traditional stories, legends,and fairytales. The most popular one „The Witch of Grič“ became the cult of Croatian literature, not to mention that she inspired many women in years to follow to chase their dreams and ambitions.
Her sculpture stands at the beginning of Tkalčićeva street in the center of Zagreb, in the crossing of all the historical places she mentioned in her novels.
In case this story of Marija Jurić Zagorka caught your eye, be sure to check out this unique, several times awarded and, above all, fascinating night tour in Zagreb- The secret of Grič!