Arany, János

BORN 2 Mar 1817, Nagy-Szalonta - DIED 22 Oct 1882, Budapest
GRAVE LOCATION Budapest: Kerepesi cemetery (14.sziget)

János Arany came from a family of farmers. When he was born his mother was 44 and his father was 60. He learend to read and write quikcly and when he was fourteen years old he started working as an associate teacher to support his parents. From 1833 onwards he studied German and French in Debrecen. Tired of school he joined a group of travelling actors for a while. After that he worked as a teacher and a clerk in various cities.

In 1840 he married Juliana Ercsey, the daughter of a lawyer. They had two children but she died early from pneumonia.

Sándor Petofi praised it in a poem and the two men became friends for life. After he returned home he became a conrector and a notary. In 1840 he married Juliana Ercsey (1815-1885), the daughter of an advocate. They had a son and a daughter.

He read widely and translated Shakespeare into Hungarian. In 1846 he published his epic "Toldi". It was very popular with the public because it was written in an understandable language. He became close friends with Sándor Petofi and the latter's death during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 was a heavy blow for him. In 1848 he himself was also involved in the Hungarian Revolution himself and he edited a govenrment newspaper for peasants. After the revolution failed he became a teacher.

He was best known for the many ballads that he wrote and for his Toldi trilogy. The second part, "Toldi's Eve" was published in 1854. In 1858 he was elected into the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and he went to live in Pest, where he became the editor of "Szépirodalmi Figyelo". In 1865 he became secretary-general of the Academy. In 1865 his daughter Julianna died from pneumonia and this effectively ended his work as a poet until 1877. In 1879 he published the third part of the Toldi trilogy. He died in 1882 in Budapest. A statue was erected for him in front of the National Museum in Budapest.

Work: "The Lost Constitution" (1845); "Toldi" (1846); "Toldi’s Eve" (1854); "Toldi’s Love" (1879).


János Arany's tomb at the Kerepesi cemetery, Budapest.
Picture by Androom (29 Jan 2001)


• Vórnai, Péter, Budapest Guide, Tourism Office of Budapest, 1999

Archbald, Andrew Berry

Published: 16 Jul 2006
Last update: 25 Apr 2022