From Damian’s Introduction to Ours Hack (WOW, No. 2, 2014)
It is not easy to assemble the image of Maria Konopnicka. It has been broken down into fragments by her works, by incomplete analyses and by warped interpretations of her biography. It is a loose assimilation of facts glued together with ideological tape, which has consolidated for the reader into a stereotype for an amazingly long time. Hence, the question ‘Who was Konopnicka?’ requires quite some contemplation on who she truly was - but for whom? This Polish writer looked into many mirrors, searching for her own reflection throughout her life.
Finding the facts just by using these fleeting reflections is a tricky task. Maria Wasiłowska was born 1842 into a landowning family in the northeast of Poland. When she lost her mother at the age of 12, her strict and religious father took over her upbringing. Her home schooling was supplemented by a private girls’ boarding school in Warsaw, while her autodidactic development continued even when she was a wife and a mother to her six children by Jarosław Konopnicki (whom she married in 1862). The events reconstructed through the author’s own narrative are considerably more varied – they will have to fit into the various imaginary roles that the poet from time to time considered to be her own. (p. 3)