Irena Krzywicka

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Irena Krzywicka, Goldberg
Publicist, Translator, Writer
 pole, jew
Warsaw, Evangelical-Augsburg Cemetery (pl)

Irena Krzywicka née Goldberg (born 28 May 1899 in Yeniseysk, Russian Empire, died 12 July 1994 in Bures-sur-Yvette, France) was a Polish feminist, writer, translator and activist for women's rights, who promoted sexual education, contraception and planned parenthood.

Early life

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, Stanisław Goldberg, was a physician, and her mother was a dentist. During the exile, Irena's father developed tuberculosis and died three years after their return to Poland. She was brought up by her mother, a lover of Polish literature, in a spirit of tolerance and rationalism.

In 1922 Krzywicka graduated from the University of Warsaw with a degree in Polish. She did not finish her PhD thesis because of the conflict with her supervisor. During her time at the university she published her first essay Kiść bzu.

Irena Krzywicka got married in 1923 with Jerzy Krzywicki, who was a son of Ludwik Krzywicki, a sociologist and women's rights activist. They decided to be in open marriage. Soon after her wedding, Krzywicka went to Corsica with her lover Walter Hasenclever, famous German poet and playwright. She believed that her marriage was happy and had two sons, Piotr and Andrzej.


Krzywicka was an author of several novels and translated works of Herbert George Wells, Max Frisch, and Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Meeting Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński turned out to be a crucial moment in her life. They fell in love and became lovers. Krzywicka's work on spreading the knowledge about sexual education and birth control made her the most famous feminist of pre-war Poland. She was considered a scandalist as she talked about abortion, women's sexuality and homosexuality.

Krzywicka and Boy-Żeleński opened a clinic in Warsaw which gave information, free of charge, about planned parenthood. She was attacked by right-wing supporters, who claimed that Krzywicka was "harming the nation" and by liberal writers, such as Jan Lechoń, Maria Dąbrowska and Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, who protested against the predominance of sexual themes in her works.

Second World War and Emigration

During Second World War and Occupation of Poland (1939–1945) Krzywicka had to remain in hiding under a false name because she was placed on the Nazi list of people for extermination. She helped Armia Krajowa (Home Army) in resistance. Three of her close ones perished during the war: her husband (probably murdered in Katyn massacre), lover (murdered in Lviv), and son Piotr.

After the war she worked in Polish embassy in Paris in 1945-1946, but eventually came back to Poland. In 1962 she left Poland to help in her son's career who was awarded a scholarship by Ford Foundation. They went first to Switzerland and then to France. Krzywicka lived for a long time in Bures-sur-Yvette, where she also died. In 1992 Krzywicka published her most famous book (an autobiography) "Confessions of a debaucherer" (Wyznania gorszycielki).


  • Pierwsza krew Towarzystwo Wydawnicze "Rój", Warszawa 1933, since 1948 entitled Gorzkie zakwitanie), reissued by Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, Warszawa 2008, ISBN 978-83-61006-30-5
  • Sekret kobiety, Towarzystwo Wydawnicze "Rój", Warszawa 1933
  • Sąd idzie, reportaże sądowe, Towarzystwa Wydawniczego "Rój" 1935, reissue "Czytelnik", Warszawa 1998 ISBN 83-07-02657-1
  • Zwycięzka samotność. Kobieta szuka siebie, Towarzystwo Wydawnicze "Rój", Warszawa 1935
  • Co odpowiadać dorosłym na drażliwe pytania, essays, Towarzystwo Wydawnicze "Rój", 1936
  • Ucieczka z ciemności, novels, 1939
  • Tajemna przemoc, Wydawnictwo Awir, Katowice 1947
  • Skuci i wolni, novels:
  • Rodzina Martenów, Czytelnik, Warszawa 1947
  • Bunt Kamila Martena, Czytelnik, Warszawa 1948
  • Siew przyszłości, Czytelnik, Warszawa 1953
  • Dzieci wśród nocy, Czytelnik, Warszawa 1948
  • Dr Anna Leśna, Czytelnik, Warszawa 1951
  • Żywot uczonego. O Ludwiku Krzywickim, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 1951
  • Wichura i trzciny, Nasza Księgarnia, Warszawa 1959
  • Wielcy i niewielcy, wspomnienia, Czytelnik, Warszawa 1960
  • Mieszane towarzystwo. Opowiadania dla dorosłych o zwierzętach, Czytelnik, Warszawa 1961, wzn. 1997, ISBN 83-07-02574-5
  • Miłość... małżeństwo... dzieci..., essays published in 1950-1962, Iskry, Warszawa 1962
  • Wyznania gorszycielki, autobiography, Czytelnik, Warszawa 1992, ISBN 83-07-02261-4
  • Kontrola współczesności. Wybór międzywojennej publicystyki społecznej i literackiej z lat 1924 - 1939, ed. Agata Zawiszewska, Wydawnictwo Feminoteki, Warszawa 2008, ISBN 978-83-924783-4-8



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        Relation nameRelation typeBirth DateDeath dateDescription
        Andrzej KrzywickiSon17.10.193702.06.2014
        2Ludwik KrzywickiLudwik KrzywickiHusband21.08.185910.06.1941

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