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217 KARACS, Teréz (1808–1892) Hungarian writer, pedagogue, teacher and memorialist; advocate of female emancipation through education. Teréz Karacs was born on 18 April 1808 in Pest-Ofen, Hungary. Her family was highly educated and Protestant, of modest means. Her father, Ferenc Karacs (1770–1838), was an engineer and qualified engraver of maps and illustrations . Her mother, Éva Takács (1779– 1845), was a publicist and active participant in debates over the role of women in society in the 1820s. From 1814 to 1819, Teréz attended the Protestant elementary school for boys and girls in Pest, missing one year due to illness. As the second of six children (three died in early childhood, two elder and one younger), she had to nurse her younger brothers and sisters and assist her mother in the household. Since her parents could not afford to pay for private lessons, she taught herself Hungarian and German literature, and history. Growing up under the influence of a ‘Protestant work ethic’ and enlightened ideas regarding the role of women in society, the Karacs daughters received practical training in skills that would secure their material independence, such as needlework or coloring their father’s engravings (typical female wage-earning activities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries). Apart from these activities, Teréz also participated in heated discussions and other educational events at her home, a meeting place for intellectuals and artists. In October 1824, she was invited by a family friend to spend ten months in Vienna, an experience that enhanced her education. Teréz Karacs’s memoirs allude to love affairs, but it seems none led to marriage. From 1822, she published riddles in entertaining and literary journals such as Kedvesked ő (Endearing) and Hasznos Mulatságok (Useful entertainments). She translated poems from German and wrote her own (love) poems, published in journals such as Hébé (Hebe, 1824); Urania (Urania, 1829); and Regélő (Storyteller, 1833; 1836). In the 1830s, she published a series of short stories with moral lessons, sympathetically dealing with transgressions of love beyond class and ethnic barriers. These were published in the journals Koszorú (Wreath, 1833) and Rajzolatok (Sketches, 1835; 1838). Throughout her publishing career, Karacs always stressed her intellectual freedom, 218 rejecting stylistic or thematic changes by male editors and asking for financial reward for her intellectual work, which was uncommon at the time. She was a regular contributor to several literary journals at a time when the female writer was still regarded as an exceptional phenomenon. In 1838, she published the humorous Játékszini terv (Plan for a playwright); in the preface to this work, she presented writing as a test or riddle, asking her readers which tool they thought provided a woman with a more successful living: “the needle or the pen?” In 1838, her father and brothers died. These misfortunes were coupled with financial losses caused by the 1840 flood and Karacs moved to Máramarossziget (Sighetu Marmaţiei, today Romania). There, she worked as a housekeeper on an aristocratic estate but did not stop publishing in literary journals. Her works appeared in Regélő (1842), Pesti Divatlap (Pest fashion magazine, 1844), Honderű (Brightness of the homeland, 1843–1846) and Életképek (Subject pictures, 1844–1846). Her writings focused on women’s education, a topic of patriotic debate in the period, and she pleaded for equal curricula for girls and boys, emphasizing the patriotic and practical education of middle-class girls in institutions run by local communities. She also advocated the right of unmarried women to become self-reliant by entering trade or gaining positions of office. In 1844, Karacs was invited by the local Protestant community to run a school for girls in Miskolc (northern Hungary). Yet prior to taking up the position with the Miskolc school (August 1846) and after the death of her mother (1845), Karacs was invited by Countess Blanka Teleki—who wished to open a patriotic and enlightened school for girls of the aristocracy—to come to Pest as her guest. Karacs opposed Teleki’s ideas about private schools and education for upper-class girls; her goal was the patriotic and practical education of young middle-class girls in institutions supported by local communities. Therefore when Teleki offered her a position at her school, Karacs refused, proposing Klára Leövey instead. Nevertheless, she called for public support for Teleki’s institution and spent half a year with Teleki visiting educational institutions, attending conferences and preparing to teach in Miskolc...


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