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Jelena J. Dimitrijević

Spouse Jovan Dimitrijević
Other names Yéléna Y. Dimitriyévitch
Date of birth March 27, 1862
Date of death April 22, 1945
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Personal situation

1862 - Born in Kruševac, in the family of her father, merchant Nikola Miljković. Her mother was Stamenka (aged 46 at the time of giving birth to Jelena), daughter of duke Milojko from Aleksinac. Jelena was Stamenka’s tenth child.

Around 1872 - Jelena moves to Aleksinac, to the home of her eldest half-brother Nikola Petrović. Petrović was a well-off merchant without a family of his own, so, soon after Nikola Miljković’s death, Jelena’s mother and other sisters and brothers also move to his home. Jelena begins, together with her cousin, Dobrosav Knez Milojković, to study foreign languages. Due to an eye injury, she is not permitted to read a lot, but, in secrecy, she reads books from her brother’s library, which at that time was "quite large".

1881 - On February 15, she marries army officer Jovan Dimitrijević. She moves to Niš, where they will stay for the next 17 years, with occassional interruptions. This is the turning point of her life. Her move to a bigger city and her marriage with Dimitrijević, in whose "bachelor apartment the only furniture and household items were books..." , meant opening new horizons. As opposed to her brother’s home, she could read here openly and as much as she wanted.

In 1915, her husband is killed in battle. In 1919 and 1920, Jelena travels to France and Spain, and leaves for America, where she stays until the end of 1920. In 1926 and 1927, she travels to the Middle and Far East: Egypt, Syria, Palestine, India, Ceylon, China, and Japan. She meets Tagore, and Egyptian and Indian famous feminists. She dies in Belgrade in 1945. Her manuscripts include poetry and prose works and are yet to be explored.

Place of birth Kruševac
Place(s) of residence Serbia
Place of death Beograd
Nationality Serbian
First language(s) Serbian
Marital status widowed
Number of children 0
Social class Upper class
Education Self-educated
Religion Eastern orthodox

Professional situation

1878 - Wrote the first poem entitled "Girl".

1881 - Becomes the youngest managing member of Women’s Society Branch in Niš.

In addition to the European languages (she would learn German, French, English, Russian, Greek, and most probably Italian) she had already started to learn, Jelena also began to learn the Turkish language and culture. Owing to Muslim women from the neighbourhood, who respect her education, Jelena can enter harems and thus learns about the lives of Muslim women in a space which is forbidden for non-Muslim women. This is the beginning of her interest in the lives of Muslim women, which will take her to Skoplje, Thessaloniki, Istanbul and further eastward.

1892 - Publishes a long poem entitled "Baba Krasa: U moj zmean i s`g" in the Christmas issue of the Belgrade magazine Videlo. Jelena Dimitrijević herself named it a "verse story". The poem is renowned for being the first poem written in a dialect. It offers a humorous picture of Niš life, and in terms of its motives it foreruns her later novella Đul Marikina prikažnja.

1894 - She publishes her first book of poetry in Niš, Pesme I, (Jelena’s Poems). There were wild guesses as to who its author might be, one of them being that this was a Turkish woman who had fled from a harem and converted. One of the poems from the collection, "Sunce jarko" ("The Bright Sun"), became very popular among Serbian people as a song. Its musical notation was written in accordance with the singing of wounded Serbian soldiers on the Bitolj frontline.

Profession(s) and other activities poet, contributor to periodical press, travel writer, and fiction writer/novelist
Language(s) in which she wrote Serbian
Financial aspects of her career Stipend/allowance/pension
Memberships Other

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