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54 BENICZKY, Hermin (Mrs Pál Veres) (1815–1895) Campaigner for women’s education in Hungary; founder (1868) and President (1868–1895) of the Hungarian Országos Nőképző Egyesület (ONKE, National Association for Women’s Education); cofounder (1869) of the first high school for girls in Hungary. On 13 December 1815, Hermin Beniczky was born in Losonc, Nógrád County (today Lučenec, central Slovakia) and baptized in the local Lutheran church. Hermin Beniczky’s father, Pál Beniczky (died 1816), was a Nógrád landowner from a high ranking Protestant family. Her mother, Karolina Sturmann (died 1831), was from a wealthy entrepreneurial family; Hermin’s maternal grandfather, Márton Sturmann, was well known for his philanthropy and dedication to national causes and to Protestantism. Most sources agree that Hermin was the second of three girls. After the death of Pál Beniczky, she and her two sisters (Maria and Lotti), her mother and her mother’s widowed sister—all German speaking—moved to a residence in Buda purchased for them by Márton Sturmann. When Hermin was sixteen, her mother died in a cholera epidemic. An erudite, literary woman who had undertaken philanthropic work in the field of education, Karolina Sturmann continued to be a role model for her daughter after her death. Having lost both their parents, the three Beniczky sisters went to live with their grandfather at Tótgyörk in Pest County (today Galgagyörk). Throughout the 1830s, Hermin attempted to structure study periods for herself in geography and history, but an eye-infection made reading difficult. She began keeping diaries, in which she emphasized the values of discipline, application and self-development. In 1839, Hermin Beniczky married Pál Veres (1815–1886), a Protestant public notary and executive county deputy from a wealthy landowning family in Nógrád County. The couple settled in Vanyarc (Nógrád County) and in 1842 a daughter, SziStatue of Mrs Pál Veres in Erzsébet Square, Budapest, surrounded by pupils from the schools of the Országos Nők épző Egyesület (ONKE), 1916. The statue, still there today, bears an inscription that reads: “Mrs Pál Veres, Hermin Beniczky. She fought so that women, with their education and their hearts, could advance the welfare of the nation.” 55 lárda, was born. In 1844, a son was also born but he died a few days later, bringing on a persistent state of ill health for Mrs Pál Veres Hermin Beniczky (hereafter Beniczky) and an intense attachment to Szilárda, whom she took wherever she went. Beniczky was an avid observer of the 1848 revolutions and savored the political language of autonomy for the individual and the nation in which they were embedded. Surrounded by a social circle of famous revolutionary figures, including Lajos Kossuth, and influenced by theories of education developed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and Jean Paul Richter, Beniczky began to reflect on the lack of importance attached to girls’ education and on ways to increase the ‘social value’ of young girls and provide them with a sense of self-worth. As Szilárda grew older, Beniczky employed university-trained teachers to give her daughter classes in Hungarian literature and history, in which Beniczky herself routinely participated. During the frequent absences of Pál Veres, Beniczky worked hard on her Hungarian language skills and read Hungarian literature. The relationship between a woman’s self-esteem and her national identity was becoming increasingly central to Beniczky’s personal views; later, it would also be a strong motivational element in her public initiatives to transform the young Hungarian woman into “a more valuable and useful member of Hungarian society” through “valuing herself more highly” (ONKE Évkönyve 1868/69, 1–2). Szilárda married and moved away in 1861. By this time, Hermin Beniczky had made friends with the writer and poet Imre Madách. In 1864, Madách gave a public lecture in which he spoke of women’s incapacities and fundamental weaknesses. Dismayed and angry, Beniczky wrote to Madách criticizing the contradictions of his position; that if, as Madách had asserted in his lecture, women were the basis of the family then this was an argument for, and not against the education of women. Madách apologized, but in Beniczky’s mind the writer had inadvertantly drawn attention to a more pervasive problem in need of address. In 1865 she published an article, “Felh...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9786155053726
Related ISBN
9789637326394
MARC Record
OCLC
868217084
Pages
698
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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