500 Czech crown banknote
On the 500 CZK banknote there is painted Czech authoress Bozena Nemcova. Her best known and widely read book is named Babicka, in English Grandmother, published in 1855. It is a book about her childhood and her happy memories of her kind and wise grandmother, describing country life in the Czech lands in the 19th century. Czech kids read this book in schools even today.
Her life is from the very beginning shrouded in mystery – we don’t even know when she was born! Not even the year!! On her tombstone it says 1820 but her school records say 1818 or even further 1817! And the mystery remaines about her parents. Nemcova was born before her lawful parents – laundress and coachman for the duchess of Racibor, Katerina Zakanska – were married. So she was an illegitimate child. Since Nemcova was so different in appearance from these parents and the fact that she was allowed special privileges at the castle and was tutored there, the question is whether she wasn’t the illegitimate child of the duchess herself.
That is however not so important about her. The important thing is that she was a writer which was in her times quite unusual – woman and a writer. Back then writers were just among men. Using today’s words we would call her a feminist. She was breaking the ice also by trying to earn her living with her writing skills only which was, again, very bizarre. On the top of it, she wrote in Czech in a time when German was the number one language. It was not because she couldn’t speak German as she was well educated. She wrote in Czech because she believed that Czech was a nice language and should not be lost in favor of German.
She was very strong woman who was not afraid to challenge social and political attitudes if her time. On the other side of the banknote there is most likely a Muse.
See also Czech crown