Draginja Draga Gavrilović

Pseudonyms Jedna učiteljica, Tvoja iskrena drugarica, Tvoja – znaš već ko, and Jedna narodna učiteljica
Date of birth March 14, 1854
Date of death February 25, 1917
Web address

Personal situation

Draga Gavrilović was born on March 14, 1854, as the eldest child of Milan and Milanka Gavrilović, in Srpska Crnja, Banat (then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Along with Draga, Milan and Milanka had five more daughters and two sons (their son Petar and sister Darinka died very young, Petar at the age of sixteen, and Darinka at the age of three). The Gavrilović were a family of wealthy and esteemed merchants. Aside from commerce, Draga’s father held a position in the municipal administration, serving briefly as a school principal. In the household of the family, special care was taken to ensure that the children had a proper upbringing and education: Draga and her siblings, aside from Serbian, spoke German and Hungarian, played music and were well informed of all literary occurrences.

c. 1865 Draga finished primary school in Novi Sad, afterwards returning to Crnja, where she learnt “womanly” crafts and household chores.

1866–1874 A highly active movement, called the United Serbian Youth, was formed in Vojvodina. Amongst other things, it helped raise the issue of female education. In 1871, a Decree on Serbian female secondary schools was passed, allowing young women to attend classes at the Sombor School for Teachers. On the basis of this decree, other female secondary schools would be founded in the next several years (in Pančevo and Novi Sad).

1875 With his family’s reputation in mind, Draga’s father Milan decided to enroll his eldest daughter into the Sombor School for Teachers.

1875–1878 After successfully passing the entry exam, Draga enrolled in the Sombor School for Teachers in September 1875. Unfortunately, because of her poor health during her school years, Draga was often absent from class and failed to achieve academic excellence. Having finished the school in Sombor, she returned to Crnja where she started working as a teacher.

1878 She started publishing poems, short stories, and translations. She frequently published her works in periodicals, until 1900, when she ceased writing and retired from public life.

1880–1911 Draga works as a teacher intermittently, her deteriorating health and frequent sick leaves preventing her from finding stable employment. She had been struck by tuberculosis for the first time around 1893, and her health condition was highly unstable ever since.

February 25, 1917 Draga Gavrilović died of tuberculosis at the age of 63 in Srpska Crnja. She was burried at the “new” cemetery in Crnja in her family tomb.

Draga Gavrilović never married and never had any children.


Place of birth Srpska Crnja
Place of death Srpska Crnja
Marital status Single
Social class Middle class
Education University education

Professional situation

With her book Devojački roman (A Maiden’s Novel), Draga Gavrilović became the first female novelist in Serbian literature. Aside from this novel, she wrote poems, short stories, comic and polemical articles. She collaborated with periodicals such as Orao (The Eagle), Sadašnjost (The Present), Neven (The Marigold), Starmali (The Precocious Child). Her prose works deal with the issue of women’s emancipation and themes from school life. The heroines are mostly young women, cast in plots that revolve around the question of marriage and matrimony.

Edited by Jelena Milinković

Translated by Dunja Dušanić

Profession(s) and other activities translator, poet, contributor to periodical press, fiction writer/novelist, and teacher/governess


Reception during lifetime

Reception after death

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