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Biography's Source: From the publisher
Henryk Sienkiewiczwas born in 1846, of an impoverished noble family, in that part of Poland which had fallen to Russia in the partition of 1793. Having joined the new Polish urban intelligentsia, as a young writer he was swept up in the Positivist movement which aimed at Polish cultural self-strengthening following the trauma of the failed insurrection of 1863–64, but his natural pessimism won through, evident in the telling satire of his short fiction, some of the best of which was written on visits to America, France and Italy. The novels of his later career, when he found himself in the position of spokesman for a country ruled by three foreign powers – Russia, Austro-Hungary and Prussia – are heavily overlaid with now dated patriotism. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1905. By the outbreak of war in 1914 he had settled in Switzerland, where he joined Paderewski in forming a Polish National Committee, eventually to be recognised as the Polish provisional government. He died in Switzerland in 1916.