Ivan Minchov Vazov (VA-zof), for thirty years the outstanding writer in Bulgaria, was that country’s first great writer in the various creative genres of the novel, poetry, and drama. During his most influential years, from 1890 to 1920, his name was used to characterize these years as “the Vazov period.”
Vazov received his elementary education in his native town of Sopot and at Plovdiv. The son of a conservative, well-to-do merchant, he enjoyed a comfortable childhood. He left Bulgaria when he was nineteen, and his first creative work, poems on patriotic and revolutionary themes, were published in Bucharest in the 1870’s. During this time he made a business trip to Romania and met the revolutionary writers Lyuben Stoychev Karavelov and Khristo Botev. Inspired by them and by the prerevolutionary poet Petko Rachev Slaveykov, he decided to give up his studies and devote his work to the revolutionary cause.
After the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish rule in 1878, he returned to his country and served as judge of the circuit court in Berkovitsa. From 1886 to 1889 he was a political exile in Odessa, having opposed Stefan Nikolov Stambolov’s Bulgarian government. When he returned to Sofia he settled down to a life of prolific writing, achieving his most notable success in 1893 with the novel Under the Yoke, a story of the beginnings of the Bulgarian revolt against the Turks.
All his novels, plays, and poems were praised for expressing sympathy for the common people. On October 2, 1920, he was honored by a national jubilee celebrating his completion of fifty years of creative work. He died of a heart attack in Sofia on September 22, 1921.