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First Slovenian women writer's fairy tale finally published

Ljubljana, 9 September - A fairy tale about a girl soldier written by the first Slovenian women writer, Josipina Urbančič Turnograjska (1833-1854), was published for the first time almost 170 years after it was written.

Ljubljana
Rožmanova Lenčiča, a fairy tale about a brave girl soldier written in 1852 by Josipina Urbančič Turnograjska, the first Slovenian women writer, poet and composer.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Ljubljana
A book launch at the National and University Library (NUK) for Rožmanova Lenčiča, a fairy tale about a brave girl soldier written in 1852 by Josipina Urbančič Turnograjska, the first Slovenian women writer, poet and composer.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Ljubljana
A book launch at the National and University Library (NUK) for Rožmanova Lenčiča, a fairy tale about a brave girl soldier written in 1852 by Josipina Urbančič Turnograjska, the first Slovenian women writer, poet and composer.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Ljubljana
A book launch at the National and University Library (NUK) for Rožmanova Lenčiča, a fairy tale about a brave girl soldier written in 1852 by Josipina Urbančič Turnograjska, the first Slovenian women writer, poet and composer.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Ljubljana
A book launch at the National and University Library (NUK) for Rožmanova Lenčiča, a fairy tale about a brave girl soldier written in 1852 by Josipina Urbančič Turnograjska, the first Slovenian women writer, poet and composer.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Rožmanova Lenčica, written in 1852, tells a story about Lenčica, a brave girl who decides to go to war against the Turks to defend her homeland and its values.

The children's book was illustrated by Jelka Godec Schmidt, while the story was adapted and the language modernised by Mira Delavec Touhami, an expert on Turnograjska.

The story is based on the motif of brave and subversive women who refuse to be an object, literary historian Milena Mileva Blažić said at Wednesday's book launch at the National and University Library (NUK) in Ljubljana.

Judging by available sources, Turnograjska could well be the first Slovenian women fairly tale writer, said Mileva Blažić.

Delavec Touhami said Turnograjska wanted to send out a message that Slovenian women play an important role in shaping national identity.

Godec Schmidt said she was not used to illustrating such powerful romantic texts, with descriptions of emotions which are hard to depict presenting a challenge.

The book brings Turnograjska's original text and a modernised Slovenian adaptation as well as translations into German, English and Spain plus a note on the writer.

Josipina Urbančič Turnograjska was born at Turn Castle near the town of Preddvor in the region of Gorenjska, north-west.

After marrying poet and politician Lovro Toman, they moved to Graz in present-day Austria. Both were very active in promoting Slovenian culture in what was the Austrian Empire after the 1848 Spring of Nations.

Turnograjska - her pen name can be translated as the Lady of Turn Castle - died just before her 21 birthday shortly after giving birth to a stillborn.

She started writing when she was only 17, penning 37 short stories, of which only nine were published while she was alive. She wrote exclusively in Slovenian.

Her motifs came from Slovenian and South Slavic history, often portraying women who were not passive but would join their husbands in war.

She is also the first Slovenian female poet, although only three of her poems have been preserved, and the first women composer.

Turnograjska started writing when Slovenian fiction was just beginning to emerge and was written exclusively by men.

Her extensive correspondence with Toman before they married, which is kept by NUK, represents an insight into "the gender discourse in the middle of the 19th century".

Marijan Rupert, head of NUK's department of manuscripts, said it is a valuable historical source for women studies.

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© STA, 2020