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Petkevicaite Gabriele


PETKEVICAITE, Gabriele (pen mane Bite; 1861-1943), writer and journalist, born in Puziniskis, county of Panevezys, on March 18, 1861.
Having graduated from the Jelgava (Mitau) girl’s school in Latvija (1878), she assisted her father, worked in a pharmacy, and taught children as a private tutor. In 1893 she founded the Ziburelis (Light) society to support indigent students and individuals active in cultural affairs. She was one of the organizers and chairwoman of the first Congress of Lithuanian Women in 1907; she also co-founded the Lithuanian Women’s Association in 1908 and the Women’s Association of Lithuania in 1922. Following the death of her father, she joined the editorial staff of the newspaper Lietuvos Zinios (Lithunaian News) at Vilnius in 1909.
Prompted by P. Visinskis, she began her career as a writer in 1890 by contributing news items to Varpas (The Bell). Subsequently, she went on to articles, fiction, drama, memoirs, literary history, and novel. Her journalistic impulse owes much to Vincas Kudirka’s complaint in Varpas.
Her earliest fiction in the form of short sketches and stories, began to appear in the press in 1894. Published separately were Tevas ir sunus (Father and Son, 1900); Nebe pirmas (No longer the First, 1902), and Krislai (Motes, 1905). Social and national themes predominate in her writing. Her ideal was social equality. The harmony that she saw in nature would also prevail in social life.
One of her most powerful stories, Dievui atkisus (Offering it to God) and two-part novel Ad Astra.
Petkevicaite turned to drama also on the advice of Visinskis, and together with her protege Zemaite began writing plays jointly under the pseudonym Dvi moterys (Two women). These include Velnias spastuose (The Devil in a Trap, 1902), Kaip kas ismano, taip save gano (To each His own Way, 1904); Litvomanai (Fanatics of Lithuanism, 1905); Parduotoji laime (The Sold Happiness, 1905); Dumblyne (The Bog, 1912). While these plays are predominantly as expression of Zemaite’s talent, Kova (The struggle, 1900) is attributed mainly to Petkevicaite.