28. 3. 1914 Brno-Židenice – 3. 2. 1997 Praha
One of the most famous and original Czech writers of the 20th century is tied to Central Bohemia in terms of life as well as work. From the age of five he lived in Nymburk, where his stepfather became a brewery manager.
After secondary schooling he studied law in Prague, but he could only finish his studies after the war in 1946. After this he held several jobs (travelling salesman, clerk, manual worker in Kladno steelworks and scrapyard…) from which he would draw inspiration for his prose. In 1961 he became a freelance writer. Some ten years later he resorted to his cottage in Kersko in the Nymburk district. There Hrabal’s best pieces of work were written: Postřižiny (Cutting it Short), Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále (I Served the King of England), Městečko, kde se zastavil čas (The Little Town Where Time Stood Still), Krasosmutnění (Lovely Wistfulness), Něžný barbar (The Tender Barbarian), Příliš hlučná samota (Too Loud a Solitude) and the short stories Slavnosti sněženek (The Snowdrop Festival) which is dedicated to Kersko, its citizens and cottagers.
In the last ten years of his life the writer received several major awards, including the French Order of Chevalier des Art et des Letters. Many of his works were adapted for film, most recently I Served the King of England. The film Ostře sledované vlaky (Closely Watched Trains) won an Oscar in 1967.
Few places appear in Hrabal’s texts as often as that of the town of Nymburk. The writer even gave the brewery permission to use the title of one of his works, and so we may now taste Postřižiny beer. Nymburk returned the compliment by making him an honorary citizen and making a permanent exhibition in the National History Museum in Nymburk. The exhibition is dedicated to the life and work of the artist and his relationship to culture – and beer.
Hrabal’s poetic style is even present in the works written at the time he worked in the Kladno steelworks: the poem Krásná Poldi (The Beautiful Poldi) and the collection of short stories Skřivánci na Niti (Larks on a String), also made into a film.