Andrejs Upīts

(1877–1970)

Andrejs Upīts was born on 4th December, 1877, in Skrīveri in a family of tenants. This is where he spends most of his childhood. He studies at the rural school, where he finishes six grades, afterwards being self taught, mainly learning languages – German, Russian, English, French and Italian. He worked as a teacher, translator, was an active public worker. In periodicals are published his stories and poems, his first books are published as well. The name of the new writer and critic becomes better known for the wider public. Especially popular becomes the novel “Jaunie avoti” (New Streams, 1909).

From 1908 until 1915, the writer works in Skrīveri, at his house, and with great pleasure cultivates the garden around it. After the First World War, returning home from their lives as refugees, the family witnesses desolation: their house is ruined, the wide library lost, trees – chopped out. In 1921, on the old foundation a new house is build and and an even wider garden cultivated. Until 1940, the writer spends his summers here, writes his historical tragedy “Mirabo”, a series of comedies, does plenty of translations. In 1940, he becomes the chairman of The Latvian Writer’s Union and the main editor of the literary magazine “Karogs” (Flag).

With the beginning of World War II, the writer with his family evacuates to the Kirov oblast in Russia. After the war, he returns to Riga, where he becomes the head of the Latvian literature department at the University of Latvia (1944–1948) and later professor (1945–1951), he is also the founder and the director of the Language and Literary institute of he Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR (1946–1951), the head of The Latvian Writer’s Union (1944–1954).

In 1945, he receives a doctorate in philology, in 1943, the honorary title of the LSSR People’s writer. In 1946, he receives the honorary title from LSSR Academy of Sciences.
A. Upīts was very productive: he penned 20 novels, 12 collections of short stories, a series of plays – tragedies, dramas, comedies, worked as literary scientist throughout his life, was a fervent publicist, also a poet and a translator. He died in Riga, on November 17th, 1970, at the age of 93.

In 1972, a memorial museum is opened in Riga, Brīvības street 38–4, and in Skrīveri, Daugavas street 58. After him is named a high school in Skrīveri. There’s a monument in his honour in Kronvalda park, Rīga (made by A. Terpilovskis in 1982).

Ilze Kaire,

The Andrejs Upīts memorial museum main specialist

February, 2010

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