Irena Krzywicka

* 28.05 1899 (Jenisejsk/Russia) 12.07.1994 (Bures-sur Yvette/France) Poland
Fields of activity: Writer, publisher, translator and feminist
Author: Małgorzata Druri

Irena Kezywicka neu

«Marriage not can to limit but can to help development»

Jerzy Krzywicki

Why do I consider this woman to be an important person?

Polish feminist, who was ahead own époque and demanded the same rights for women as for men, also in affection and sex.

She was active on spreading the knowledge about sexual education and birth control.

She criticized traditional bourgeoisie customs and broke it’s in her private life with big courage.

Demanded the tolerance for homosexuality and better conditions for prisoners.

Thanks her translations we had possibility to know great literature (Durrenmatt, Wells, Frish). She gave strong impulse to Polish women s movement.


Irena Krzywicka was born in a family of Polish-Jewish left- wing intelligentsia.

Her parents were socialist activists exiled to Siberia, where Irena was born.

Her father, Stanislaw Goldberg, was a physician and during the exile developed tuberculosis and died three years after their return to Poland return to Poland. She was brought up by her mother, a lover of Polish literature, in spirit of tolerance and rationalism.

In 1922 Krzywicka graduated from the University of Warsaw with degree in Polish language. She did not finish her PhD thesis because of conflict with her supervisor.

During her studies she published her first essay Flowers of lilac”

In 1923 she got married Jerzy Krzywicki, who was a son of Ludwik Krzywicki, well known sociologist and women s rights activist.

They decided to be in open marriage and give freedom each other. Soon after wedding.

Irena went to Corsica with her lover Walter Hasenclever, German poet and play wright.

In spite of it she believed that her marriage was happy and had two sons, Piotr and Andrzej.

Krzywicka was an author of several novels, essays, critics and translated works of Herbert George Wells, Friedrich Durrenmatt, and Max Frish.

Meeting with Tadeusz Boy-Zeleński, famous writer, turned out to be a crucial moment in her life. They became lovers and this relationship was very strong.

They demanded of changing women s conditions, sexual education, birth control, legalization of abortion. They organized and opened in Warsaw a clinic, which gave free of charge information’s about Planned Parenthood.

She was considered a scandalize and was attacked by right-wing supporters and catholic society, who protested against the predominance of sexual themes in her works.

During Second War and occupation of Poland Krzywicka had to remain in hiding under a false name because she was placed on the Nazi list of people for extermination.

In spite of she helped Polish Home Army in resistance.

She lost her three closed men her husband (murdered in Katyń massacre), her lover Boy-Żelenski murdered in Lviv and son Piotr.

After the war she worked in Polish embassy in Paris in 1945-46, but eventually came back to Poland. In 1962 she went with her second son Andrzej first to Switzerland and then to France.

She lived for a long time in Bures-sur-Yvette, where she also died in 1994.

In 1992 Krzywicka published her most famous book –an autobiography “Confessions of a debauchery”, where she presented the life of society in pre-war Warsaw with all social and cultural problems.


  • Agata Tuszyńska: „Długie życie gorszycielki” Iskry Warszawa 1999
  • Sławomir Koper:„Wpływowe kobiety II Rzeczypospolitej” Bellona Warszawa 2011

Warszawa 2010

Picture source

National Digital Library Polona

Rights: Dobrzynski, Ludwik

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