Ivo Andrić

Ivo Andrić (1892–1975) was born to Catholic Croatian parents in a village in Austrian-occupied Bosnia. His father died when he was two, and his mother sent him to live with his aunt and uncle in Višegrad, a town on the Drina River near the Serbian border. In high school, he began writing poetry and joined Young Bosnia, a student revolutionary movement advocating South Slav unification. Andrić enrolled at the University of Zagreb in 1912, where he continued working with South Slav nationalist groups, then transferred to the University of Vienna, and later to the University of Kraków, all the while publishing poems in Bosnian journals and anthologies. Upon the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Andrić, an associate of Gavrilo Princip, returned to Bosnia and was quickly arrested by Austrian police. Over the course of World War I, while in prison and later under house arrest, he wrote a number of prose poems that were published in two collections after the war, Ex Ponto (1918) and Nemiri (Unrest, 1920). In 1919, Andrić was appointed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the new Yugoslavian government, and served as a diplomat in the Vatican, Bucharest, Trieste, Paris, Madrid, and, finally, as the ambassador to Germany, a post he held at the outbreak of World War II. Refusing the German government’s offer of safe passage to Switzerland, he returned to Belgrade, where he spent the war under house arrest, writing his two best-known novels, Na Drini ćuprija (The Bridge on the Drina) and Travnička hronika (Bosnian Chronicle), which were published in 1945. The Bridge on the Drina would go on to become required reading in Yugoslavian high schools, and Andrić would become a celebrity in Communist Yugoslavia. He was named the president of the Yugoslavian Writer’s Union and in 1950 was appointed a deputy in the National Assembly of Yugoslavia. In 1958, he married Milica Babić, a costume designer twenty years his junior, and in 1961 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Babić died in 1968, and Andrić lived alone in an apartment in Belgrade until his death in 1975. His funeral was attended by ten thousand people, and his former apartment was converted into a museum.