Novelist, playwright, film director, screenwriter, Vladislav Vančura was born on June 23, 1891 in Háj (Silesia) into a family with roots in the
nobility. In 1896, his family moved to a country house along the Vltava River a few miles south of Prague, and from 1905 he studied in Prague,
first at a primary school and then at the Royal Gymnasium in Lesser Town. He matriculated to Charles University to study law in 1915, but soon
changed to the study of medicine (working a few months in a hospital in 1918), finishing his degree in 1921.
In the eleven year period between 1923, when his first book appeared (a collection of short prose titled Amazon Stream), and 1934, when his novel
The End of Old Times was published, Vančura produced his most acclaimed novels: Jan Marhoul, Baker; Arable Fields and Battlefields;
Summer of Caprice; and Marketa Lazarová. These works brought Vančura renown as a stylistic innovator of the first order. He was the first chairman
of the Devětsil artists group, helping to formulate its program for avant-garde literature (Poetism). In 1921, he joined the Communist Party, but was expelled in 1929 after
he came out against Klement Gottwald's leadership.
In 1928, he moved to Zbraslav (now an outer suburb of Prague), into a functionalist villa designed for him by the architect Jaromír Krejcar,
a fellow member of Devětsil. Nazi Germany occupied Bohemia and Moravia on March 15, 1939, and on May 22 Vančura's cousin, Jiří Mahen (born Antonín Vančura),
to whom Marketa Lazarová is dedicated, committed suicide. Vančura was active in the Czech underground resistance, and on May 12, 1942, he was arrested
by the Gestapo, tortured at their Prague headquarters, and imprisoned. After the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich on May 27, a wave of Nazi reprisals ensued
in which thousands of Czechs were murdered, including Vančura, who was executed by the SS on June 1, 1942.
published by TSP:
also by the author:
Summer of Caprice