Ivo Andric, the Serbian writer was born on 9th of October 1892 in the Bosnian town Travnik to a poor Croatian family, fourteen years later after the Austria-Hungarian Empire was granted the right to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Berlin Congress thus ending four hundred years of Ottoman reign in this religiously, culturally and nationally extremely mixed area. During his high school years in Sarajevo Andric was actively participating in the South Slavic Oriented Youth Movement which later became known as Young Bosnia where he also started to work on his first literary pieces. In 1911 he published his first poems in the Bosanska Vila newspaper. After his graduation in 1912 he started to attend the University of Zagreb. However after a year he transfered to Vienna and later to Krakow where he found out about the Sarajevo assassination. At the same time seven poems in the collection Croatian Young Lyric were published. During his holiday stay in Split, Andric was imprisoned under suspicion that he had been involved in the Sarajevo assassination. He captured his impressions from the Maribor prison in lyrical fragments that made a part of his first work with an ovidian name Ex Ponto (1918, Czech 1919). After his three year imprisonment he was rehabilitated and sent for treatment for tuberculosis to Zagreb where he along with other young literates starte to publish the newspaper Knijzevni jug (The literary south).
After the end of the WW I and foundation of Yugoslavia, he moved to Belgrade. From 1920 until the beginning of the WW II he worked mainly in diplomacy. He served in the following royal consulates and embassies: Vatican, Bucharest, Trieste, Graz (where he defended his doctoral thesis), Marseilles, Paris, Madrid, Brussels and the League of Nations in Geneva. In 1937 he was appointed deputy minister of foreign affairs and in 1939 he was appointed minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary to Berlin. Even though he took his diplomatic carrier very seriously, he never stopped writing. Except for a few exceptions, it was almost always about Bosnia, the place of his childhood. At the beginning of his many stories inspired by “the rocky and gloomy country…the country of evil and fear” is the story The Journey of Ali Djerzelez (Put Alije Djerzeleza 1920, in Czech 1962) which was followed by Stories (Pripovetke) written in 1924, 1931 and 1936. These were published in Czech in 1936 and 1938 under the title Mara milostnice (The Pasha’s Concubine). After Hitler attacked in June 1941, Andric came back to Belgrade and lived a secluded life during the war. At that time he wrote his most extensive novels: Travnik Chronicle (Travnicka hronika, in Czech in 1958, 1964, 1987) The Bridge on the Drina (Na Drini cuprija, in Czech in 1948 as Most pres Drinu, in 1987 as Most na Drine) and a novel about a stingy woman The Woman from Sarajevo (Gospodjica, in Czech in 1947 as Slecna dela penize). All three novels were published right after the war in 1945. At the same time he got involved in cultural and political life of the new democratic and federative Yugoslavia. He was an envoy to Bosnia and Hercegovina for five years and after that he lived in Belgrade for the rest of his life. He continued writing and wrote books of stories, a few studies and essays and The Damned Yard (Prokleta avlija 1954, in Czech in 1961 and 1987). To his works in ten books seven more books were posthumously after the author’s death on 13 March 1975. Those books were: the unfinished novel Omer Pasha Latas (Omerpasa Latas 1976, in Czech in 1981), a collection of stories The House on Its Own (Kuca na osami, in Czech Dum na samote), a book with his observations and thoughts Signs by the Roadside (Znakovi pored puta, in Czech Znameni u cesty), his poems, essays, critical studies, and diary entries. In the 1960s two minor collections of stories were published in Czech, The Journey of Ali Djerzelez (Cesta Alije Djerzeleza in 1962) and Jelena, the Woman of My Dream (Zena, ktera neni in 1967) and a book for children Aska and the Wolf (Aska a vlk in 1966). In 1987 a three book collection was published including The bridge on the Drina, Travnik Chronicle, a collection of stories The Vizier’s Elephant and a novella The Damned Yard.
The works of Ivo Andric became a classic of modern Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian literature and were highly awarded not only in the former Yugoslavia but also in the world. In 1961 Ivo Andric received the Nobel Prize for Literature and has been the most translated author from those parts of the Slav South.