Lucjan Wilhelm Wolanowski
(born Lucjan Kon on February 26, 1920, Warsaw, Poland, died February 20, 2006, Warsaw, pseudonyms and pen-names: Wilk; Waldemar Mruczkowski; W. Lucjański; (L.W.); lu; Lu; (lw); WOL.) - Polish journalist, writer, traveler and translator.
.Born to an intellectual family. Son of Henryk Kon (lawyer, 1868-1949) and Róża Wolanowska (1883-1932), the great-grandson of Majer Wolanowski (1844-1900), a well-known Polish manufacturer. His sister, Elżbieta (Kon) Wassongowa (1908 - 2007) was a Polish translator and the book editor.
Wolanowski studied chemistry at the Grenoble Polytechnical Institute (France 1938-1939); the outbreak of World War II caught him during a vacation in his homeland. During the war he fought as a soldier of the Polish clandestine Home Army and acted as a literary contributor to the Polish underground press.
After the war, he took a position with the Polish Press Agency in 1945. He was a commentator of conferences for journalists accredited with the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw. In this period he met and befriended such notable figures of world journalism as Edward R. Murrow, Sydney Gruson, Flora Lewis, Larry Allen, Vicent Buist or Pierre Marechal, who at the time were foreign correspondents in Poland. He worked as a journalist for the weekly magazine „Przekrój” (1945-1950), and later also for the illustrated weekly „Świat” (1951-1969), as well as for the magazines „Dookoła świata” (1969-1976) and „Magazyn Polski” (1976-1984).
In the course of his career, he actively participated in a ship-rescue operation in a Norwegian fiord, made a long trip aboard an Icelandic cutter in North Atlantic waters, went on five trips around the world (1960-1972). During his travels, he became well-acquainted with the Pacific region, visiting Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua and New Guinea, West Irian, French Polynesia, Fiji, Hong-Kong and Singapore. Between 1962-1963 he was accredited to the headquarter of the UN Troops in New Guinea during the landing operation. In 1965 he was granted a scholarship from United States State Department; as a member of the „Program for Leaders”, he became the only Eastern European member of an international team of reporters to cover the launch of the space vessel Gemini 5 (Cape Kennedy, Florida, 1965). Between 1967 and 1968, Wolanowski acted as advisor to the World Health Organization Information Department in Geneva, then – in a similar capacity – he commenced work at the WHO branches in New Delhi, Bangkok and Manila. Later in his carrer, he traveled aboard an Australian light-house tender m.v. Cape Moreton, servicing light-houses in the small Coral Sea islands; he also took part in an Australian whaling expedition. During his unfortunate expedition across the Kimberley desert Wolanowski was rescued by the black-trackers.
He wrote 25 books (translated into 7 languages), most of which offer narratives dedicated to the experiences of his travels. Focusing neither on economics or politics, Wolanowski would always seek to capture „the human side of the story,” relentlessly striving to gain the first-hand experience of what he intended to write about. All his books are illustrated by pictures he shoots himself.
Member of the Polish Journalists’ Association (1951-1982 and 1991-2006), the Polish Writers’ Union (1959-1983), the Polish PEN Club (1971-2006), Polish Writers’ Association (1989-2006); former member of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS; 1945-1948) and of the Polish United Workers Party (PZPR; 1948-1980).
Distinctions: Order of the Romania Star (1949), Award of the Polish Club of International Publicists (1962); Polish Journalists’ Association Best Book of the Year Award (1973); the Cavalier’s Cross of Polonia Restituta; the Golden Cross of Merit; Honorary Citizen of Springfield, USA (1965).
His daughter, Anna Wolanowska-Nathan (b. 1952), pharmacist, lives in North Bondi, NSW, Australia.
(Translation: TERESA KOWALSKA)