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628 ŻMICHOWSKA, Narcyza (1819–1876) Polish writer, publicist, educationalist; initiated and led the women’s group Entuzjastki (The Enthusiasts, 1842–1849). Pseudonym: ‘Gabryella.’ Narcyza (real name Kazimiera Narcyza Józefa) Żmichowska was the tenth child of Wiktoria born Kiedrzyńska (d. 1819) and Jan Żmichowski (d. 1838), a clerical worker for a salt mine at Nowe Miasto on the Pilica River (central Poland ). Narcyza was born in Warsaw on 3 March 1819. Orphaned by her mother, who died on the fourth day after the childbirth, and rejected by her father, who subconsciously blamed her for the death of his beloved wife, she was brought up by her uncle and his wife, Józef Żmichowski and Tekla born Raczyńska. Her three brothers (Hiacynt, Erazm, Janusz) and five sisters (Wiktoria, married name Lewińska; Kornelia, married name Gloger; Hortensja, first married name Keller, second Dunin; Lilia, married name Zaleska and Wanda, married name Redel) all went their separate ways but never lost touch with one another. While their father was alive, the children would gather at Nowe Miasto on the Pilica River; after his death, the homes of the (married) sisters became the center of family life. Thus in childhood, Żmichowska suffered from a lack of parental care while at the same time receiving strength, support and love from her other family members. These contrasting experiences help explain Żmichowska’s acute awareness of the role of the family in the development of certain personality traits; in her later pedagogical writings, she would emphasize the importance of relations between mother and child and within the family for providing a natural environment of maturation. Żmichowska graduated from the well-known Zuzanna Wilczyńska’s girls’ boarding school in Warsaw and, in the first half of the 1830s, entered the so-called Institute of Governesses. A certificate from this establishment authorized one to open a private boarding school, but Żmichowska did not have adequate financial resources. After graduating from the Institute, she returned to her aunt and uncle Kiedrzyński in the provinces (Mężenin), where she spent several years. In this period, she complained of boredom and criticized the intellectual shallowness of the local nobility. In a letter to her friend Bibianna Moraczewska, she wrote that there was nothing to be heard but 629 “debates about crops, vodka, poultry [and] waxing floors” (Żmichowska 1957–1967, 2: 6). In 1838, on Zuzanna Wilczyńska’s recommendation, Żmichowska was offered the post of governess at the house of Prince Konstanty Zamoyski and his wife Aniela, and she left for France with them. However, she was unable to retain the ‘modest’ and ‘obedient’ role required of her as a tutor. The Zamoyskis disapproved both of Żmichowska’s contact with her brother Erazm, a political emigrant settled in Reims, and Żmichowska’s intellectual aspirations, which took her frequently to the Biblioth èque Nationale to pore over the works of (among others) Leibniz, Fichte, the Schlegel brothers and Kant. In September 1839, Żmichowska returned to Poland. On the way, she stayed in Poznan (a town in the western part of Poland under Prussian rule) in the house of her friends, the siblings Bibianna and Jędrzej Moraczewski. There she met eminent liberal politicians and philosophers. From 1841 to 1843, Żmichowska worked as a governess at the home of Mr and Mrs Kisielnicki, located somewhere near Łomża. The Kisielnickis’ daughter Anna became a friend of Żmichowska and in later letters to Anna, as well as to Bibianna Moraczewska, Żmichowska formulated educational and philosophical ideas, emphasizing what she saw as a need to “sanctify presence,” to show appreciation for everyday existence (Żmichowska 1957–1967, 2: 87). The following years she spent in Warsaw , where, together with a group of eminent women that included Anna Skimborowicz , Tekla Dobrzyńska, Emilia Gosselin and Wincenta Zabłocka, Żmichowska formed the group Entuzjastki (The Enthusiasts), which existed between 1842 and 1849. The group was neither literary nor conspiratorial (i.e. plotting military action against the partition of Poland), but a small, loosely-connected and informal group, linked by ties of friendship and sympathy and built upon existing social and family structures. The Enthusiasts did not adhere to any defined ideology, but directed their activity in two directions simultaneously: active participation in public life and personal selfrealization , understood in its broadest sense. The Enthusiasts founded and taught in schools, carried out charity work, wrote and edited works for publication, corresponded , distributed literature (including illegal literature), debated issues of public interest, established contacts with leading...


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