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544 SUBURG, Lilli (Caroline) (1841–1923) Author, journalist, headmistress (of an elementary private girls’ school); women’s suffrage campaigner during the rise of the Estonian national movement. Lilli (Christian name Caroline) Suburg was born on l August 1841 in the township of Uue-Vändra, in the parish of Vändra. Her mother was Eva Suburg (born Nuut); her father, Toomas Suburg, was the keeper of the granary at the Rőusa estate. Soon after Lilli’s birth, the family moved to the Vana-Vändra estate, where Toomas Suburg began working as an overseer and her mother as a cheese-maker. Lilli’s parents earned a decent income and were soon able to lease the entire estate. The German language and way of life accompanied their prosperity. Lilli’s education began with governess tutorials, taken along with the children of the lord of the Rőusa manor. From 1852 to 1859, she continued her studies in the town of Pärnu, at Marie von Ditmar’s private school and at the girls’ high school in Pärnu. Lilli suffered from poor health: in Tartu she was diagnosed as having erysipelas, which left ugly scars on her cheek. From then on, she never had her photograph taken without a scarf on her head. In Tartu, in 1869, Lilli passed the exams necessary to obtain a teaching certificate. Meanwhile, the Suburgs founded the so-called Waldberg dairy-farming estate in Sikana , near Vändra. Lilli Suburg read extensively in those years: German fiction and philosophy (Johan W. Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Friedrich G. Klopstock, Arthur Schopenhauer), texts by Thomas Carlyle, books addressing social and feminist questions and works on education by Eugenie John (pen-name ‘Marlitt’), Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. The 1860s marked an era of ‘national awakening’ in Estonia. In the 1870s, the issue of women’s education entered the Estonian press through the writing of Carl Robert Jakobson (1841–1882), an Estonian national leader, writer, farmer and pedagogue. He argued that the education of women would prevent them from becoming snobbish Lilli Suburg, 1916, 75th jubilee at the Mari Raamot school of domestic economy in Sahkapuu, near the City of Tartu. 545 ‘town misses’ with affected Baltic–German manners. Jakobson had come to live at Vändra in 1872 and, from 1873, often visited the Suburg family. At the instigation of Jakobson, Lilli Suburg wrote her first original (autobiographical ) short story “Liina,” published in 1877. Reprints of “Liina” were issued in 1884 and 1927 (and in Finnish in 1892). Some Estonian literary critics saw it as a sentimental yet ambitious piece of prose; its descriptions of the inner struggles of an Estonian girl against Baltic–German manners at school seemed an embittered attack on society by a physically scarred, thirty-year-old female writer. The story provoked sharp reactions within Baltic–German literary circles and discussions in Estonian national newspapers. Lilli Suburg became known as the first female author to write in Estonian ; public interest in her was further intensified on account of her activities on behalf of women’s suffrage. In this period, again at Jakobson’s suggestion, Lilli Suburg turned to journalism. In 1878, she was offered the position of editor of the Perno Postimees (Pärnu courier, founded in 1857). Over the following year, she tried to bring the conservative paper politically closer to the radical Sakala (Viljandi courier). In 1880, Lilli Suburg adopted a young orphan, Anna Wiegandt. This was a bold move in a society based on traditional family models. It required decisiveness and selfconfidence . In Suburg’s later writings, one finds references to the impact this decision had upon her life. In 1880, together with her adopted daughter, she moved to Pärnu and earned her living by giving private lessons. With the help of her sister, Anette, who was working in Russia, Lilli Suburg began plans to set up a private elementary school that would teach Estonian girls in the Estonian language. However, since only religious instruction was permitted in the Estonian language, Lilli Suburg opened her private elementary school for Estonian girls as a German-language school, with subjects taught in German. Even so, in the Baltic–German seaside resort of Pärnu, the school aroused indignation not only among Baltic–Germans, but also among snobbish Estonians. Despite this hostility, Lilli Suburg was an active social figure: to raise funds for the school, of which she was headmistress, she staged plays and organized charity bazaars. In 1885, Lilli Suburg...


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