The 'enthusiasts' of the 1840s and their latter-day enthusiasts

Celebrating Narcyza Żmichowska's 200th birthday

Illustration by Karolina Jonc-Buczek

Wednesday 20 February, 7pm
Brixton Library
Brixton Oval
London SW2 1JQ

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Narcyza Żmichowska, first Polish author to write about women’s friendship and sisterhood, education and independence, the event will make connections between the group of radical women surrounding her in the 1840s and their latter-day emulators.
Ursula Phillips (translator) will introduce Żmichowska’s controversial novel The Heathen (1846) and then chair a discussion with contemporary poet-translators Anna Błasiak and Maria Jastrzębska on their own recent poetry, on Polish women writers of the past, and on what we might understand by ‘women’s writing’ and ‘lesbian/ queer writing’.

The event will be accompanied by an exhibition of photographs by Lisa Kalloo, which make up the visual aspect of Anna Błasiak’s upcoming collection.


Ursula Phillips is a British translator from Polish and a writer on Polish literary history. Recent translations include Narcyza Żmichowska’s 1846 novel The Heathen (2012) as well as novels by Zofia Nałkowska, Choucas (1927) and Boundary (1935), which received the Found in Translation Award 2015 and the PIASA (Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America) Wacław Lednicki Award 2017 respectively.

Poet, editor and translator, Maria Jastrzębska’s most recent collection is The True Story of Cowboy Hat and Ingénue (Cinnamon Press/Liquorice Fish 2018). Her selected poems were translated into Polish by Wioletta Grzegorzewska, Anna Błasiak and Paweł Gawroński (Stowarzyszenie Żywych Poetów 2015). She co-edited Queer in Brighton (New Writing South 2014). Recently she has been the writer for a Polish-led collaborative art project Snow Q: www.snowqproject.wordpresscom. She co-translated Elsewhere by Iztok Osojnik with Ana Jelnikar and translated Justyna Bargielska’s The Great Plan B (Smokestack 2017). Her work is widely anthologised and features in the British Library project Between Worlds, Poetry and Translation.

Anna Błasiak
is a poet, translator and literature co-ordinator of the European Literature Network. She has translated over 40 books from English into Polish and some fiction from Polish into English – by Mariusz Czubaj, Wioletta Grzegorzewska, Jan Krasnowolski, Kaja Malanowska, Daniel Odija, Mirka Szychowiak, Irit Amiel and Renia Spiegel (mainly as Anna Hyde). She has also translated poetry by Maria Jastrzębska, Mary O’Donnell, Nessa O’Mahony, Vesna Goldsworthy, Martina Evans, Tishani Doshi and Pascale Petit – and, into English, by Mirka Szychowiak, Radosław Wiśniewski and Edward Pasewicz. In addition to her book-length translations, her work has been published in Best European Fiction 2015, Asymptote, The Guardian,
B O D Y Literature, Modern Poetry in Translation and York Literary Review. Anna writes poetry in Polish: Więź, Kwartalnik artystyczny, Dekada literacka, ArtPapier, Kwartalnik Szafa, Śląska Strefa Gender, Nowy BregArt, Obszary Przepisane and Inter, and in English: Off_Press, Women Online Writing and Exiled Ink. She has been shortlisted for several major poetry competitions in Poland. Her first book in Polish is due in 2019. Anna has worked in museums and a radio station, run magazines, written on art, film and theatre.


The event is a part of the Lambeth LGBT + History Month, themed this year as 'Peace, Activism and Reconcilliation'.

Organised by Stockwell Partnership / Poles Connect in partnership with Lambeth Libraries and with support from the Polish Cultural Institute in London and Polonia Aid Foundation Trust (PAFT).

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