Five Facts About Croatian Writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić

Lauren Simmonds

croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić
Facebook/Ivana Brlić Mažuranić

November the 16th, 2023 – We’ve looked at one famous Croatian female writer and women’s activist, Marija Jurić Zagorka, but she’s not the only one worth celebrating. Here are five facts about Croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić

Her first literary works were originally written in French

Praised as the best Croatian author for children, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić’s very first literary creations were actually written in French. Because she came from a very well known family, and also ended up later marrying into another one, she enjoyed a high quality education and also studied privately. Foreign languages were a field the young Ivana was incredibly interested in, and by all means – she was talented in picking them up. French was of particular appeal to her and she eventually became more or less entirely fluent, and so her very first written works were written in French. She switched to writing them in Croatian only later on.

She combined fairy-tales and slavic mythology


Croatian Tales of Long Ago/Priče iz davnine is among Croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić’s most beloved written works. Published in 1916 and still very popular to read to children to this very day, it is widely considered to be her literary masterpiece. She showcased her talent and flexibility in precisely this book, as she combined fairy-tales with names and motifs from stories of pre-Christian Slavic mythology that Croats already knew well. Her mixing together of fantasy and mythology has even seen her compared to the remarkable author of The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien. In fact, it was the same company which published his works (including The Hobbit), which published the translated version of the Croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić’s book in 1924.

She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature four times

Jasna Malec Utrobičić

Croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić was a four-time Nobel Prize nominee in literature. She was initially nominated in 1931 and 1935 by Gavro Manojlović, a respected politician, historian and academic. She was nominated once again in 1937 and 1938, again by Manojlović and also by Albert Bazala, a Croatian philosopher born in Czechia. Both of the Nobel Prize nominations issued by these academics – who were once both professors at the University of Zagreb and presidents of the South Slavic Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb – were initially written in German.

She’s known as the “Croatian Andersen”

Studio TiM

She was compared not only to J.R.R Tolkien by literary critics, but also to Hans Christian Andersen. These comparisons only intensified as her works began being translated into English and as such being made available to a much wider audience.

chronic Depression drove her to suicide

Ivana Brlić Mažuranić

Like very many great minds, Croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić struggled immensely with her mental health. She battled unrelenting depression for many years. She had visited numerous resorts, health centres and facilities in her attempt to deal with her various health issues throughout her life. In spite of her professional success, excellent education and good background, she was constantly dogged by chronic depression which would consume her for long periods of time. In one particularly difficult period spent in and out of various facilities, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić ended up taking her own life. This final act in the tortured writer’s life occurred at Zagreb’s Srebrenjak Hospital on the 21st of August, 1938. She was 64.


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