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"The sentence: I am from Debrecen, I should not forget, that my homeland
within the great motherland is always Debrecen, was often heard
not only in my childhood or as a young girl, but also later on."

Magda Szabó
(Debrecen, 5 October 1917 - Kerepes, 19 November 2007)
Kossuth Prize-winning Hungarian writer, translator

She graduated in her hometown in 1935. She earned a teaching degree and Ph. D. in Latin and Hungarian at the University of Debrecen in 1940. She has been teaching at the local Reformed Girls' School then at Hódmezővásárhely until 1945, when she became the employee of the Ministry of Religion and Public Education. She won the Baumgarten Prize in 1949, but it has been withdrawn in the same year and she was dismissed from her job and could not publish since 1958. At this time she was working as a primary school teacher.

Magda Szabó, originally starting her carreer as a poet, returned as a novelist and playwright after 1958. The novels Freskó and Az őz brought national recognition to her. She had been working as a freelance writer since then. She wrote many autobiographical novels; Ókút, Régimódi történet and Für Elise is presenting her own and her parents' childhood and Debrecen at the beginning of the 20th century. Many of her writings deal with the life and relationships of women, for example Danaida and Pilátus.

She worked as the general superintendent and the secular vice-chairwoman of the Transtibiscan Reformed Church District. The Debrecen Reformed Theological Academy confered an honorary degree on her in 1993, the University of Miskolc in 2001. In 2000 she became the foundation member of the Széchenyi Academy of Literature and Art and full member in the section of literature.

"There is only one place I never name, this is Debrecen.
If I want to go to Debrecen, and when people are asking:
where are you going just now, I answer: home. ...
Homeland, of course, till death, is always Debrecen."

"Everything connects me with this place,
I was baptized here, I was confirmed here,
I became what I became here. ... I have the feeling that,
thank God, you from Debrecen sheltered me,
and I can return to the place from where I originated , started once."

She married Tibor Szobotka, the writer in 1947, whose figure was recalled in the book Megmaradt Szobotkának. After the death of her husband, Magda Szabó became the caretaker of his estate.

Being one of the most widely translated Hungarian writers, her novels were published in many countries and languages. She is a founding member of the Digital Literary Academy.

She asked in her will that her remains should be placed in two urns, one in Debrecen beside her parents' grave, and one by the side of her husband, Tibor Szobotka in Budapest.

On 29 November 2007 Magda Szabó was laid out at the City Hall of Debrecen, then one part of her ashes was placed in the Public Cemetery on 1 December 2007.

Honours, awards

    Baumgarten Prize (1949, withdrawn)

    József Attila Prize (1959, 1972)

    Honorary Citizen of Debrecen (1977)

    Kossuth Prize (1978)

    Pro Urbe Budapest Prize (1983)

    Getz Corporation Prize (1992)

    Honorary Doctor of the Debreceni Reformed Theological Academy (1993)

    Déry Tibor Prize (1996)

    Szép Ernő Prize (1998)

    Nemes Nagy Ágnes Prize (2000)

    Corvin Chain (2001)

    Prima Primissima Prize (2003)

    Femina Prize (2003)

    Member of the European Academy of Sciences

    Mandello Prize(2005)

    Honorary Citizen of Budapest (2006)

    Cévennes Prize(2007)

Méliusz Juhász Péter Könyvtár 4026 Debrecen, Bem tér 19/D. Telefon: 52/502-470 E-mail: info@meliusz.hu