Classic Lithuanian Literature Anthology

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Žemaitė

(1845 - 1921)


Zemaite

    Julija Beniuševičiūtė-Žymantienė, in literature known under pseudonym of Žemaitė, was born on May 31, 1845, in Bukantiškės estate, Plungė community, to a family of a poor nobleman. She did not get any systematic education. To read and to write she learned at home from her father, and more elementary education knowledge she received from her wealthy relative. Later she learned from the books.
    In 1865 she married a former serf who had not his own land, and lived in hardship with no possibilities to educate herself. Žemaitė recovered only in 1885, after moving to live at her brother's house in Usnėnai near Užventis. There she made acquaintance with Povilas Višinskis, who discovered her talent and urged to write. In 1894, being at the age of 49, Žemaitė wrote her first story.
    In 1911 Žemaitė settled in Vilnius and joined the cultural and social activities of Lithuanians. In 1913-1915 she was a managing editor of periodicals "Lietuvos žinios" (The News of Lithuania) and "Aušrinė" (The Morning Star). During the World War I Žemaitė went to Petrograd, where she took care about relief for Lithuanian refugees. In 1916 she came to the USA to collect donations for relief of victims of war. While living in America she cooperated with Lithuanian press. After return to Lithuania she settled in Marijampolė. Žemaitė died on December 7, 1921, in Marijampolė, and is buried there.