Dora Gabe Biography

Dora Gabe, a renowned poetess from Bulgaria, made significant contributions to literature and translation throughout the 20th century. Born to a journalist father, she received a strong foundation and pursued higher education in Natural Sciences. Her passion for languages led her to travel abroad, where she became proficient in multiple languages and began translating works by esteemed authors and government officials. Alongside her translation work, Gabe embarked on a grand tour of Europe, delivering lectures on Bulgarian literature and the political climate of the era. Her original poetry, including works like ‘Spring’ and ‘Don’t Come Near Me!’, garnered praise and continue to be studied in Bulgarian schools. Gabe also dedicated herself to writing for children, publishing books and editing magazines for schools. She played a pivotal role in establishing the Bulgarian PEN Club, a platform for creative communication during the challenging times of the world wars, and served as its chairman. Additionally, Gabe served as the counselor for cultural affairs at the Bulgarian Embassy in Poland, a notable position for a woman during that period. Her remarkable achievements and contributions to literature and cultural diplomacy are still remembered today.

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 97
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Boyan Penev
    • Father: Peter Gabe
  • Poets
  • Bulgarian Women
  • Died on: November 16, 1983
  • Place of death: Sofia
  • More Facts
  • Education: Sofia University, University of Grenoble

Childhood & Early Life

Pavel Gabe, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, was Dora Gabe’s father. He was the first Jewish man to be elected to Bulgaria’s Parliament, known as the Bulgarian Narodno Subraine. Despite being elected, he was not allowed to serve in Parliament and instead pursued journalism, becoming a prominent figure in the country. He encouraged Dora to take a keen interest in academics. She graduated from Sofia University in 1904 with a degree in Natural Sciences. A year later, she embarked on a two-year trip to Switzerland and France to study French Philosophy.


Upon her return to Bulgaria in 1907, Dora began her career as a French teacher in Dobrich. In 1908, she published her first poems, “Spring” and “Violet,” which are still widely taught in Bulgarian classrooms today. From 1912 onwards, she traveled to various countries including the United Kingdom, France, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, and Switzerland. During her trip in 1917, she began her work as a translator, handling the works of Konopnicka, Wyspianski, Mickiewicz, and more. This work continued throughout her life.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Dora gave lectures on Bulgarian literature and the fate of Dobruja, a disputed land between Romania and Bulgaria. She spoke in favor of the “Internal Dobrujan Revolutionary Organization,” which aimed to keep the land for Bulgaria. She also worked on translating an anthology of Polish Poets and edited “Biblioteka za nai-malkite” by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education. In 1927, she became a founding member of the Bulgarian PEN Club and served as its chairman for many years.

During this time, Dora was at the peak of her writing career. She published poetry for both children and adults, reviews of theater and literature, political essays, and short stories. Some of her most famous works include “Wait sun,” “The world is a secret,” and “Invisible eyes.” She also served as the editor for “Window,” a children’s magazine, from 1939 to 1944, and later for “Nightingale” from 1944 onwards.

Major Works

Dora Gabe wrote many famous poems, such as “Spring” and “Don’t Come Near Me!,” which are still taught in Bulgarian schools and read around the world. She also translated numerous works by other poets and authors. In 1927, she founded the Bulgarian PEN Club, which supported many European writers of that time.

Awards & Achievements

In 1968, Dora Gabe was named an “Honorary Citizen of the city of Tolbuhin” in Bulgaria. Her written pieces are still taught in schools in Bulgaria, and she is regarded as an important figure in Bulgarian literature. In 2003, the Dobrich City Council awarded the first “National Literary Prize: Dora Gabe” to recognize her excellence in writing.

Personal Life & Legacy

Dora Gabe was married to Professor Boyan Penev, although the exact dates of their marriage are unclear. Her works continue to be available in over two dozen languages, and she is celebrated in Bulgaria as a significant literary figure. She once wrote that she allowed her husband, a poet, to control her passions and interests during their marriage, but she was only able to live her own life after his passing.

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