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262 KRÁSNOHORSKÁ, Eliška (born Alžběta Pechová) (1847–1926) Feminist, poetess, librettist, critic, translator and founder of the first girls’ high school in the Austro-Hungarian Empire; President of the Ženský výrobní spolek český (Women’s Czech Production Society ). Pseudonyms: ‘Bětka Rozmarná’ (Jolly Betty), ‘Soliman Řetkvička’ (Soliman the Radish), ‘Reader of the Journals,’ ‘A. Temná’ (A. Dark). Krásnohorská was born Alžběta Pechová in Prague on 18 November 1847, to craftsman Ondřej Pech (1802–1849?), who died when she was two years old, and Dora Vodvářková, who supported the talents of her five children, particularly their musical interests. Alžběta was the fourth child. Since her older brothers took care of her education and taught her at home, she acquired a somewhat broader education than was usual for a woman at that time. Nevertheless, in her memoirs Co přinesla léta (What the years brought to me, 1928), Krásnohorská expressed regret over not having had a solid, formal education. Her family home hosted many members of Prague bourgeois circles, including the composer Karel Bendl. Pechová wrote one of her first librettos (1868) for Bendl’s opera, Lejla. She was soon introduced to important Prague intellectuals such as the Kantian aesthetician Josef Durdík (1837–1902), who drew her attention to the ideas of the philosopher Johan Friedrich Herbart (1781–1841), and to the prominent writers Karolína Světlá and Vítězslav Hálek (1835–1874). At the age of sixteen it became clear that, since she suffered from serious and painful joint illness, Pechová was not going to be able to devote herself to her beloved music. Partly under the influence of Karolína Světlá and partly as a way of resisting her incurable illness, the young, pretty and petite Pechová chose to live a life of self-imposed celibacy, dedicating her energy to the Czech cultural and national revival then sweeping the literary scene. It was at this time that she took the slightly ironic pseudonym of ‘Eliška Krásnohorská,’ inspired by her imaginary father, the knight of Krásná Hora (meaning ‘beautiful mountain ’). In 1863, she began publishing her early poems in the most important literary magazine of her time Lumír, edited by the respected poet Vítězslav Hálek. In 1871, she 263 published a collection of poems called Z máje žití (From the spring of living) which, along with other collections of poems such as K slovanskému jihu (Towards the Slavonic south, 1880) and Ze Šumavy (From the Šumava mountains, 1873), formed her best poetic works. These intellectual poems exceeded the traditional expectations of nineteenth-century Czech readers and critics and Krasnohorská was criticized for her eroticism, which was deemed unsuitable for women. She put her sense of irony to good use in the epigrams, fables and satirical sketches she wrote for the satirical journal Paleček, as well as in her witty books for young girls. In the 1860s, Krásnohorská witnessed the foundation and was involved in the activities of the Americký klub dam (American Ladies’ Club), an elite philanthropiceducational organization that emerged around Vojtěch Náprstek (1826–1894), an admirer of modernization, American democracy and the women’s movement. The Americký klub dam brought together prominent Prague women to organize educational and philanthropic programs with the support of Czech male liberals. Countess Jenny Taxis, Karolína Světlá and her sister Sofie Podlipská were among the founding members. The activities of the Americký klub dam continued until the Communist takeover in 1948. Krásnohorská’s feminist activities included leadership of the Ženský výrobní spolek český (Women’s Czech Production Society), established in 1871. This organization aimed to alleviate poverty among the female population through educational programs (in response to conditions created by the Prussian–Austrian war of 1866). Krásnohorsk á led the Ženský výrobní spolek český from 1891, after the death of the long-standing director Emilie Bártová, who had taken over the organization after Karolína Světlá’s resignation in 1880. Krásnohorská’s active involvement in the Ženský výrobní spolek český dates from 1873, when the organization took over Ženské listy (Women’s letters ), a supplement for the magazine Květy (Flowers). Světlá made Krásnohorská editor-in-chief of Ženské listy in 1875 and from then on, Krásnohorská’s status as a professional writer and editor and her financial independence from...


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