Polish poet, awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. Her work is particularly noted for its careful choice of words and universal themes, unusual in a Polish poet living through such defining political times as Stalinism and the Solidarity revolution of 1989. At the time of her Nobel Prize, she had published 16 collections of poetry, and had translated French poetry. Other honours for her work include the German Goethe Prize (1991), the Austrian Herder Prize (1995), and the Polish Pen Club Prize (1996).
Szymborska made her poetical debut in 1945 in a Polish daily newspaper with a poem entitled Szukam slowa/I Seek the Word. In 1952 she joined the Polish Socialist Party (PZPR), and her work was branded as socialist realism which praised communism. However, she later described her disillusion with such politics, particularly after the death of Stalin in 1953, and her work became less political. She joined the editorial staff of the Polish weekly literary newspaper Zycie literackie/Literary Life in 1953, editing the poetry section until 1966, and continuing as a columnist and essayist there until 1981, when she joined the staff of the monthly literary journal Pismo. Her work has been translated and received around the world. As well as her poetry, she published her group of essays Lektury Nadobowiazkowe/Optional Readings, written from 1967 to 1981.
Szymborska was educated in Kraków, Poland, and attended the Jagiellonian University there, studying sociology (1945–48). She was awarded the minister of culture and art prize and the prize of the city of Kraków in the 1960s and was made an honorary doctor of letters by the University of Poznań, Poland, in 1995.