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416 PCHILKA, Olena (real name Olha Petrivna Kosach, born Drahomanova) (1849–1930) Ukrainian writer, editor, translator, ethnographer and women’s activist; corresponding member (from 1925) of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Olena Pchilka (pseudonym of Olha Petrivna Kosach, born Drahomanova) was born in Hadiach (in the region of Poltava) on 29 July 1849, to a landed noble family steeped in liberal and intellectual traditions. Her father, Petro Yakymovych Drahomanov (1802–1866), was a graduate of the St Petersburg Law Academy who also wrote, published and translated short stories and poetry. Her mother, Yelizaveta Ivanivna Drahomanova (born Tsiatska, 1821–1895), was semi-literate (she could read but could only sign her name), yet it was she who introduced Ukrainian folklore to the Drahomanov family and instilled a love for its richness in her children. The Drahomanovs had five children altogether, among them Mykhailo Drahomanov (1841–1895), a historian, publicist, folklorist, literary critic and public activist who emigrated in 1876 and taught at Sofia University (Bulgaria) from 1889 until his death. He would play an important role in the lives of Olena Pchilka and her daughter, Lesia Ukrainka (see also Julia Malinova). Olena Pchilka received her primary education from her father and in 1861, Mykhailo Drahomanov placed her in the Kiev Institute for Girls of the Nobility, from which she graduated in 1866. In 1868, she married Petro Antonovych Kosach (1842– 1909). Kosach, who was also from a noble family, received his primary education at the Chernihiv Gymnasium and entered St Petersburg University, from which he was expelled for his part in the student movement. He nevertheless succeeded in entering Kiev St. Volodymyr University, where he graduated in legal science. After they married , the couple moved to Zviagel (now Novohrad-Volynsky in the region of Zhytomyr ), where Kosach held a legal position. In 1879, the family moved to Lutsk, later 417 purchasing a land share in Kolodiazhne (in Kovel, in the region of Volyn) and building the house where they would live until the death of Petro Kosach. In 1876, Pchilka published her first work Ukrainskiy narodnyi ornament (Ukrainian folk design), edited by Mykhailo Drahomanov and Volodymyr Antonovych. It was written in Russian in accordance with the so-called Emsk Decree (1876), which explicitly prohibited any kind of publishing activity in the Ukrainian language on the territory of the Russian Empire. In 1879, after the family had moved to Lutsk, Pchilka set up a publishing house: the NHV (Small Volyn Group). In 1880, the NHV published Spivomovky by Stepan Rudansky (“spivomovky,” a word invented by Rudansky, is roughly translatable as “singing words”), thereby rescuing the forgotten poet from obscurity. A year later, Pchilka published her translations of works by Mykola Hohol and her own play, Suzhena—Ne Ohuzhena (She who is promised but not disgraced). In her foreword to the Hohol translations, Olena Pchilka stated explicitly that her primary goal was to develop the Ukrainian language and bring it out of the home into the public sphere. By the early 1890s, Olena Pchilka was publishing quite regularly, for example in the Lviv magazine Zoria (Star). She soon became an acknowledged writer and a key figure of Ukrainian literary and thus cultural life. In her much-criticized writings, Olena Pchilka strove to transcend limitations posed by Ukrainian nationalist-populist discourses. She sought new topics that were not related to village life (conceptualized at that time as the sole basis for the Ukrainian national idea). In her own words: “…I set out in a new field—though I remain, so to speak, on the fresh ground of the very same Ukrainian field, Ukrainian literature, Ukrainian life… [My heroines] are all taken from the lives of the people ; though they are not the heroines of Vovchok, Kulish, or even Shevchenko (those delicate lovers, sisters, women), they are still the figures of patriot women” (Bohachevsky-Chomiak 1999, 42). Her heroines, like herself, shaped by her ideas on the position of women and the importance of women’s role in the development of the nation, went very much against the grain of the society she lived in and did not receive popular acclaim. An energetic woman with a keen sensitivity to women’s inequality in Ukrainian society (split at that time between the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires and regarded as two independent entities by the Ukrainians themselves), Olena Pchilka was actively involved in many spheres of Ukrainian cultural and political life. Together with Natalia Kobrynska, Pchilka edited and published an anthology...


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