Milka Grgurova

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Name Milka Grgurova
Spouse and other names Matić, Aleksić
Date of birth February 14, 1840
Date of death March 25, 1924
Country Serbia
Language Serbian
Web address http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/womenwriters/vre/persons/54fc480c-e853-424c-ab8d-8e231e25a1e9#prevnext=1

About her personal situation

Milka Grgurova was born into a wealthy family of merchants in Sombor. When she was twelve, her parents sent her to an educational institute for women, where she spent three years. Her father’s bankruptcy forced her to return home. Milka’s father considered that selling their estate in Sombor along with his entire business and his daughter’s hand in marriage to the rich merchant Matić from Sremski Karlovci was the only possible solution to his financial crisis. Milka was not even sixteen whenn she got married and moved to Sremski Karlovci. Her stay in Sremski Karlovci was rather brief: after the birth of her daughter Evica, the child and Milka returned to her parents’ home in Sombor. On one occasion, an amateur theatre on tour performed in Sombor. Milka was offered a role in one of their plays, which she accepted. Having received her parents’ half-hearted permission and blessing, she left home to become an actress. She was only 23 years old when she became a member of the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad.   

Milka left Novi Sad after giving guest performances with her company in Belgrade during the season of 1867/8. This move was facilitated by the fact that the National Theatre had been founded in Belgrade and was under the management of Jovan Đorđević. The larger part of the company moved to Belgrade, where they would give their biggest stage performances for the next 40 years. Milka Grgurova was called the “Serbian Sarah Bernard”. As an “unparalleled tragedy actress”, she managed to play more than 500 roles from the international and national repertoire. She remarried in 1882 to Colonel Konstantin Aleksić. During the period of their harmonious and happy marriage she began to write: encouraged by her husband, Grgurova wrote more than 50 short stories scattered across Serbian periodicals of that time. She published a collection of short stories in 1897. She was 63 when she retired in 1902, having spent 38 years on the stage of our two oldest and most prominent theatres in Serbia. She died of old age when she was 84, in a small room behind the theatre near Manjež park, alone, poor and almost forgotten. 

Place of birth Sombor
Place(s) of residence Serbia
Place of death Beograd
First language(s) Serbian
Marital status Married
Number of children 1
Name(s) of children Evica
Gender of children F
Education Self-educated and School education

About her professional situation

As an exceptionally talented actress, Milka Grgurova became a member of the Serbian National Theatre when she was 23. She gave her first performance on stage during a visit to Vinkovci in 1864. Ever since then, acting awards and credits followed one after another. Supported by Jovan Đorđević, the founder of the National Theatre in Belgrade and her first director, she moved to Belgrade in 1868, where she would act as a member of the National Theatre for the next 34 years. She significantly raised the quality of professional acting in Serbian theatre. The pinnacle of her career is considered to be the period between 1870 and 1889. Even though her literary work was much publicized and scrutinized in the press, its reception was mainly negative. Aside from short stories, she wrote short travelogues, autobiographical sketches, obituaries, polemics and theatre reviews. 

Profession(s) and other activities Writer of prose and novel, Actress, and Translator
Language(s) in which she wrote Serbian
Financial aspects of her career Salary
Memberships Other

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