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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Eliska Krasnohorska

b. 1847, Prague; d. 1926, Prague

Poet, librettist, literary and music critic, translator, feminist theorist and activist—Eliška Krásnohorská was a woman of extraordinarily wide-ranging interests and talents. At the age of sixteen, she began publishing her poetry in Lumír, the leading literary journal of the day. By the early 1870s, she was active in feminist circles, founding the Women’s Czech Production Society (1871) to promote educational opportunities for destitute women, and editing Women’s Letters (from 1875 on), which she transformed into a serious journal of feminist and political analysis. Her gift for music was recognized by the composer Smetana, a national icon, who asked her to write the librettos for three operas (1876–83). She published a summation of her feminist views in 1881 in The Czech Woman Question, advocating equal pay for equal work and access to education as keys to women’s advancement. In 1890, she formed the Minerva Society, which established the first gymnasium (high school) for girls in the Austro-Hungarian empire. The often comic opposition to this project is recounted in her memoirs, Co prinesla léta, published in 1928.