born July 2, 1923 in Kórnik near Poznań, is a poet and essayist, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. As a young girl she attended the elite Ursuline Sisters’ School in Krakow. During World War II, attending clandestine study groups and working at the railway, she wrote her first stories and poems, as well as illustrated the textbook First Steps in English. She studied Polish and social sciences at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. In the years 1953-1981 she worked as poetry editor for the journal Życie Literackie. She was also on the editorial board of the Cracovian monthly Pismo (1981, 1983).
Her first volume of poetry Dlatego żyjemy (That’s Why We Live) was published in 1952. The following were Wołanie do Yeti (Calling out to Yeti, 1957); Sól (Salt, 1962); Sto pociech (No End of Fun, 1967); Wszelki wypadek (Could Have, 1972); Wielka liczba (A Large Number, 1976); Ludzie na moście (People on the Bridge,1986); Koniec i początek (The End and the Beginning,1993); Widok z ziarnkiem piasku. 102 wiersze (View with a Grain of Sand. 102 Poems, 1997); Wiersze wybrane (Selected Poems, 2000), Chwila (Moment, 2002), Dwukropek (Colon, 2005) and Tutaj (Here, 2009). She also published three volumes of Lektury nadobowiązkowe (Facultative Readings, 1973, 1981, 1992), originally columns in Życie Literackie, Pismo and Gazeta Wyborcza. Her light verse was collected in the volume Rymowanki dla dużych dzieci (Rhymes for Grown Children, 2003).
Szymborska is the recipient of the Kościelski Prize (1960), the Goethe Literary Award (1991), the Herder Award (1995) and the Polish PEN-Club Award. She holds an honorary doctorate from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (1995). In 1998 she became Honorary Citizen of the City of Krakow and in 2001 she won an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. According to the Academy’s verdict, Wisława Szymborska is not only one of the most sophisticated contemporary poets, but also one of the most readily understood. In her poems, dazzling in their variety and depth, she describes with humour and insight what it was like to live in an epoch of far-reaching intellectual re-evaluations. Her muse is subtle, or even sly.
Her work has been translated into many languages by such outstanding translators as Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh, Karl Dedecius and Anders Bodegård. Her poetry, though far from immediately accessible, enjoys huge popularity, her books selling tens of thousands of copies both in Poland and abroad (most recently in Italy and Spain). In Krakow, where she has been living since 1931, Szymborska is also known as a keen participant in literary games in small circles of trusted people, as well as the author of limericks, funny occasional poems and hand-made collage postcards which she likes to give away to her friends.