Alfred Szklarski

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Alfred Szklarski [ˈalfrɛt ˈʂklarski] (January 21, 1912 in Chicago – April 9, 1992 in Katowice) was a Polish author of youth literature. He also published his books as Alfred Bronowski, Fred Garland and Alfred Murawski.

Commemorative statue of Alfred Szklarski in Grunwald plaza in Katowice.

Biography[edit]

Szklarski was born in Chicago, Illinois, as the son of an émigré and journalist, Andrzej Szklarski, and Maria née Markosik. He started school in Chicago but he moved to Poland with his father in 1926.[1] At first he lived in Włocławek where he continued his education. Then in 1932 he moved to Warsaw where he studied at the Academy of Political Sciences until 1938. The graduation paved the way for his diplomatic career but his plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Szklarski stayed in the Polish capital during the German occupation. He took part in the Warsaw Uprising as a volunteer rifleman. After the uprising's fall, he moved to Cracow but in February 1945 he went to live in Katowice in Upper Silesia where he stayed permanently.

In the year 1949 he was tried by the communists for his alleged publications in a daily New Courier of Warsaw as well as other German propaganda newspapers. He was sentenced to eight years in prison but he was released in 1953.

Career[edit]

Alfred Szklarski debuted during the German occupation of Poland with his novels which were aimed at adults. These included: Żelazny pazur (Iron claw, 1942), Krwawe diamenty (Bloody diamonds, 1943) and Tajemnica grobowca (The secret of the tomb, 1944). In the post-war period he started to sign his writings with pseudonyms: Alfred Bronowski and Fred Garland. However, his publishing house persuaded him to write youth novels signed with his real name. That was how his best known books came into existence, namely the series of novels about Tomek Wilmowski, a young boy who travels the world with his friends (Polish emigrants) and experiences great adventures. Tomek, who is the main character of the books, learns the value of friendship, study, responsibility, etc. The series of 9 books is full of geographical, historical, cultural and biological knowledge as well as humour and entertainment which is aimed at adolescents and young adults.

Szklarski was co-author (with his own wife Krystyna Szklarska) of a trilogy about the Sioux titled Złoto Gór Czarnych (The Gold of the Black Hills). The books described hunting bisons, the beliefs, intertribal conflicts and the later native Americans' first contact with the white people as well as their fights. It is claimed that Szklarski's books about history and sufferings of the indigenous peoples of America were inspired by his own war experience as well as Polish people's tragic history and invaders' cruelty. He is considered to have believed that the history of native Americans is similar to a great extent to the history of Poland. The only difference was that Poles have managed to finally endure invasions, long years of occupation, extermination, Germanisation and Russification, whereas tribes of America eventually lost their free homeland which was taken over by the Whites.[2] He strongly condemned interracial violence, and supported the idea of reconciliation between nations.

The popularity of his books brought him several awards, including Orle Pióro (1968) and Order of the Smile in 1971. Moreover, he was twice given an award by the Prime Minister (1973, 1987) for his literary works for the young readers. He was a member of the Association of Polish Authors.

His books have been translated into Russian and Bulgarian, unfortunately they have not been translated into English. They have also been published in the braille system. They have been brought out in the number of 11 million.

Works[edit]

Adventures of Tomek Wilmowski[edit]

  1. Tomek w krainie kangurów (Tomek in the land of the kangaroos, 1957)
  2. Tomek na Czarnym Lądzie (Tomek on the Black Continent, 1958)
  3. Tomek na wojennej ścieżce (Tomek on war path, 1959)
  4. Tomek na tropach Yeti (Tomek traces Yeti, 1961)
  5. Tajemnicza wyprawa Tomka (Tomek's secret expedition, 1963)
  6. Tomek wśród łowców głów (Tomek among headhunters, 1965)
  7. Tomek u źródeł Amazonki (Tomek at the source of Amazon, 1967)
  8. Tomek w Gran Chaco (Tomek in Gran Chaco, 1987)
  9. Tomek w grobowcach faraonów (Tomek in pharaohs' tombs, 1994, published posthumously by friend Adam Zelga who had finished the book on the basis of notes left by Szklarski)

The gold of the Black Hills (with Krystyna Szklarska)[edit]

  1. Złoto Gór Czarnych – Orle Pióra (The gold of the Black Hills: Eagle Feathers, 1974)
  2. Złoto Gór Czarnych – Przekleństwo złota (The gold of the Black Hills: The curse of gold, 1977)
  3. Złoto Gór Czarnych – Ostatnia walka Dakotów (The gold of the Black Hills: The last battle of the Sioux, 1979)

Other works[edit]

  • Gorący ślad. Współczesna powieść sensacyjna (Hot Trace. A modern sensational novel., 1946, alias: Alfred Bronowski)
  • Trzy Siostry. Powieść. (Three Sisters. A novel., 1946, alias: Alfred Bronowski)
  • Błędne ognie. Opowieść współczesna z życia górników (1947, alias: Alfred Bronowski)
  • Nie czekaj na mnie. Powieść współczesna (Don't wait for me. Contemporary novel., 1947, alias: A. Bronowski)
  1. Tomek w tarapatach (Tomek in trouble, 1948, alias: Fred Garland)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Some sources claim that it was 1928.
  2. ^ Piotr Kapuściński, Alfred Szklarski at DumnizPolski.pl (pl)