Manuscript of 40 verses of Mickiewicz’s “Pan Tadeusz”

Image of two manuscript pages side by side

Contributor: Teresa Rączka-Jeziorska

Location: Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine in Lviv, 3a Soborna sq., Lviv

Description: This piece of paper was found in 2015 in Lviv in the collection of the Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine. Written on it are the first forty verses of “Pan Tadeusz czyli ostatni zajazd na Litwie. Historia szlachecka z r. 1811 i 1812 we dwunastu księgach wierszem” [“Pan Tadeusz. A Story of the Gentry from 1811 and 1812. Comprising Twelve Books in Verse”], an epic poem that the Polish Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), inspired by love and longing for his homeland, created while in Paris (1832-1834). The handwriting is that of Mickiewicz; it has in addition a title and a legible signature in the same hand. The manuscript contains a previously unknown version of the ‘Invocation’ of the Polish national epic. It is possible to date this autograph to Mickiewicz’s residence in Paris through the paper. The manufacturer’s watermark (located in the right bottom corner, front — seashell and “WEYNEN” caption in an irregular octagon), identifies it as Timothée Weynen paper that was very popular in France in the 1830s. Mickiewicz used it mostly in the period from 1832 to 1836, writing most of “Pan Tadeusz” on it, including the so called Dzików manuscript of “Pan Tadeusz”, as well as his translation of Byron’s The Giaour (1833). It became part of a Romantic-era collection of “Autographs of Illustrious Men” which documented authors both old and contemporary, made by bookseller and antiquarian Ambroży Grabowski (1782-1868). Its story exemplifies how and why European Romantic culture was invested in holograph manuscripts associated with poets.

Contrary to other preserved manuscripts of the poet, this one is characterised by unusually neat writing of words and verses, with no crossings-out, blotches or ink spots whatsoever. On the basis of the legibility and aesthetics of the writing which, for Mickiewicz, was quite extraordinary, we can infer that this is not a part of a longer working manuscript but a separate text, written as an “autograph” by request. The heading provided in the author’s handwriting (in the upper right part, front): “Pan Tadeusz Book 1” provides further evidence for this; formal identification of the excerpt of the epic poem was common practice in hand-copied verses at the time.

Already in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, both in Poland and among emigrants, every hand-written piece of the Polish bard was treated with great esteem. The difficult political situation of the nation after 1795, when it was under the control of three invaders (Prussia, Russia and Austria), contributed to this cult. This veneration, which continued to develop unofficially until the end of the nineteenth century, was central to the maintenance and development of Polish culture (Winek, p. 15-17). Mickiewicz himself, however, despite realizing the value of his manuscripts for future generations, did not pay attention to their appearance or to keeping them in one piece. He took them out of his coffer or drawer to give to friends and strangers alike. On many occasions he changed his work into passing souvenirs by tearing out pages from his notebooks or cutting them into small pieces (Zgorzelski, p. 5). In the case of “Pan Tadeusz”, the poet usually shared pages from his rough copy or provided short quotations from the Invocation. As a result, the original manuscript of the epic poem, handed over and divided as a relic into ever smaller parts, does not amount to the whole work today (Mikulski, p. v).

The page of “Pan Tadeusz” presented here fits into the Romantic obsession with preserving holograph manuscripts, present in Europe at that time and going back to the tradition of album amicorum (Opacki, p. 172). It is an interesting exception on a number of counts, however. It does not derive directly from the popular nineeenth century book of friendships but has always functioned as a separate self-contained artefact; it is not a part of a rough copy or a final draft; it was specifically written as a souvenir but exceeds the customary few verses usually put on paper; and it varies from other known autographs of the Invocation and the content in the first printed edition of “Pan Tadeusz” (1834).

The existence of this autograph, according to the blue piece of paper attached to it, is owing to Ambroży Grabowski. This self-taught son of an organist from Kęty became a bookseller in Kraków, authoring and publishing historical guidebooks and unearthing a forgotten and derelict city archive. Grabowski’s great passion was collecting: paintings, sculptures, medals, butterflies, geological specimens, archaeological, historical and cartographic artefacts, and ephemera amongst others. He collected not only in obedience to the Romantic fashion for making collections but as a way of materializing a fantasy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. One of the things he collected were those he deemed outstanding Polish personalities of the Romantic age, among them the artist Józef Szymon Kurowski (1809-1851). After the collapse of the November Uprising, Kurowski had escaped to Paris where he met and painted Mickiewicz in the 1830s. It was thanks to Kurowski that Grabowski managed to get the dreamed-of autograph, which we may assume was created before the Invocation was finalised for publication. Out of care for this invaluable element of national heritage, the autograph was removed from the book of “Autographs of Illustrious Men” in the early 20th century, most probably by Grabowski’s grandson, Lucjan (1871-1941). It ended up in the Lviv Ossolineum and finally in Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine.

Date: probably circa 1832-1834

Creator: Mickiewicz, Adam, 1798-1855

Media: music version of The 40 verses of Mickiewicz’s “Pan Tadeusz”, Mickiewicz/Stasiuk/Haydamaky “Inwokacja” 2019:

Media rights: copyright Teresa Rączka-Jeziorska (The Institute of Literary Research of The Polish Academy of Sciences) on the basis of publication permission granted by the Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine in Lviv

Object type: manuscript

Format: ink on paper, 22,8 x 17, 9 cm

Language: Polish

Publisher: Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine in Lviv  (Центральний державний історичний архів України, м. Львів)

Catalogue number: Fond 202 [Adam Mickiewicz Literary Association in Lviv]), description 1, work 9, card 1.


Mickiewicz, Adam, Pan Tadeusz: podobizna rękopisów, (Pan Tadeusz: Photographs of Manuscripts) edited by T. Mikulski (Wrocław 1949).

Opacki, Ireneusz, Pomnik i wiersz. Pamiątka i poezja na przełomie oświecenia i romantyzmu, w: «W środku niebokręga». Poezja romantycznych przełomów (The Monument and the Poem. Memorabilia and Poetry at the Turn of Enlightenment and Romanticism, in: «In the Middle of the Firmament» Poetry of Romantic Turning Points (Katowice 1995).

Prussak, Maria and Rączka-Jeziorska, Teresa, Nieznany autograf Adama Mickiewicza. Dwie strony Inwokacji Pana Tadeusza (The Unknown Autograph of Adam Mickiewicz. Two Pages of Invocation from Pan Tadeusz) (Warszawa 2018).

Winek, Teresa, «Pan Tadeusz» Adama Mickiewicza. Autografy i edycje («Pan Tadeusz» by Adam Mickiewicz. Autographs and Editions) (Toruń-Warszawa 2011).

Zgorzelski, Czesław, Wstęp, w: Wiersze Adama Mickiewicza w podobiznach autografów. Część pierwsza. 1819-1829 (Introduction, in: Poems by Adam Mickiewicz on Photographs of Autographs. Part One. 1819-1829) (Wrocław 1973).