Henryk Sienkiewicz

Henryk Sienkiewicz books and biography


Henryk Sienkiewicz

Henryk Sienkiewicz.
Henryk Sienkiewicz.

Henryk Adam Aleksander Pius Sienkiewicz (IPA: [ˈxɛnrɨk ɕenˈkieviʧ] Image:Ltspkr.png listen) (artistic name: "Litwos") (May 5, 1846, Wola Okrzejska, Russian-occupied Poland, - November 15, 1916, Vevey, Switzerland) was a Nobel Prize-winning Polish novelist.



Born into a wealthy family in Wola Okrzejska, in Russian-ruled Poland, Sienkiewicz wrote historical novels set during the Rzeczpospolita (Polish Republic, or Commonwealth). His works were noted for their negative portrayal of The Teutonic Knights, which was remarkable as a significant portion of his readership lived under German rule.

Many of his novels were first serialized in newspapers, and even today are still in print. In Poland, he is best known for his historical novels (The Trilogy) set during the 17th-century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and elsewhere he is known for Quo Vadis, set in Nero's Rome.

Sienkiewicz had a way with language. In the trilogy, for instance, he had his characters use Polish language as it was spoken in seventeenth century. In Krzyżacy, which relates to the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, he even had his characters speak a variety of medieval Polish which he recreated by utilizing many of the archaic expressions then still common among the highlanders of Podhale.

Quo Vadis has been filmed several times, most notably the 1951 version.

He won the 1905 Nobel Prize in literature "because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer."1

Generations later, Alexander Victor Sienkiewicz (one of the few relatives of Henryk Sienkiewicz), has begun to heavily promote Henryk’s work in the United States, a land where he is not widely known [citation needed].

Chief novels:

  • The Trilogy (Trylogia), comprising:
    • With Fire and Sword (Ogniem i mieczem, 1884), which took place during the 17th century Cossack revolt known as the Chmielnicki Uprising; made into a movie with the same title;
    • The Deluge (Potop, 1886), describing the Swedish invasion of Poland known as The Deluge; made into a movie with the same title;
    • Fire in the Steppe (Pan Wołodyjowski, 1888), which took place during wars with the Ottoman Empire in the late 17th century; made into a film titled Colonel Wolodyjowski.
  • The Teutonic Knights, also translated as The Knights of the Cross, ISBN 0-7818-0433-7 (Krzyżacy, 1900, relating to the Battle of Grunwald); made into a movie with the same title in 1960 by Aleksander Ford.
  • Quo Vadis (1895).
  • In Desert and Wilderness (W pustyni i w puszczy, 1912).
  • The Polaniecki Family (Rodzina Połanieckich, 1894).
  • Without Dogma (Bez dogmatu, 1891).


  • Many commentators erroneously state that Sienkiewicz received the Nobel Prize for Quo vadis. This is incorrect. He received it "because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer." Sources: and [1] "Za co Sienkiewicz dostał Nobla" (a Polish newspaper article).
  • In Poland, Sienkiewicza Street in central Warsaw; Sienkiewicza Street in Kielce; Osiedle Sienkiewicza, one of the districts of the City of Białystok; and Sienkiewicza Municipal Park in Wrocław, are all named after Henryk Sienkiewicz.
  • Many of Sienkiewicz's works were translated to Hebrew and were extremely popular among the Jewish community of Mandatory Palestine in the 1940's - a large part of which was composed of immigrants and refugees from Poland - and also during Israel's early decades. Often, parents who had in their own younger age liked the books in the original introduced the translations to their children who did not know Polish. However, in later generations the books' popularity in Israel waned.

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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