(1866 - 1912)
Pencho Slaveykov was born in Tryavna. He studied in his native town, in Stara Zagora, in Sofia, and in Plovdiv. Under Heine’s influence he wrote his youthful songs published in the Momini salzi [Lilies of the Valley] collection in 1888. In 1892, Slaveykov set out to study Philosophy in Leipzig. He got acquainted with the writing of Goethe, Heine, Theodor Storm, D. Liliencron, R. Dehmel, G. Falke, N. Lenau, H. Ibsen, J.P. Jakobsen; he delved into Kierkegaard’s ideas, and perused the publications of Brandes, Lange, Shopenhauer, and Nietzsche. From Leipzig, he was a regular contributor to the journals Misal and Balgarska sbirka. Upon his return to Bulgaria in 1898, Slaveykov worked as a teacher at the Sofia High School for Boys, and joined the Bulgarian Society of Letters (today’s Bulgarian Academy of Science); he was later a deputy director (1901-1909) and a director (1909-1911) of the National Library, director of the National Theatre (1908-1909). He collaborated closely with Dr Krastyo Krastev in editing the Misal journal and was a key figure in the literary circle of the same name.
Pencho Slaveykov is the author of the book Epicheski pesni [Epic Songs] (vol. I - 1896; vol. II – 1898), the collection of poems San za shtastie [Dreaming of Happiness] (1907), the anthology Na Ostrova na blazhenite [On the Isle of the Blessed] (1910), the unfinished long poem Karvava pesen [Bleeding Song]; he was also the editor of the anthology Nemski poeti [German poets] (1911). Slaveykov wrote literary criticism on Bulgarian as well as on foreign authors, and he tried his hand at theorising on the topic of Bulgarian folklore: Narodnite lyubovni pesni [Folk Love Songs] and Balgarska narodna pesen [The Bulgarian Folk Song]. In 1904, with Henry Bernard, he co-edited a collection of Bulgarian folk songs and sayings, Syankata na Balkana [The Shadow of the Balkan Mountains]. He was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Pencho Slaveykov was the ideologist of Bulgarian Modernism, an artist with a systematic programme for the Europeanization of Bulgarian culture.
English translations of Pencho Slaveykov’s poems have been anthologised in collections of Bulgarian literature.