The Polish people have a long history behind them and although they have suffered hardships, they have been able to establish a wealth of writers, poets, musicians and filmmakers. These creative people have not only made an impact inside Poland, but have also had an influence on neighbouring countries as well as on a wider international scale.
Poland has the rare honour of being the home of five separate winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The first of these to receive the prestigious award was Henryk Sienkiewicz in 1905. He mainly wrote historical novels and is probably best known for his Quo Vadis. The second winner was Wladyslaw Reymont in 1925 and the third being Polish-Lithuanian poet Czeslaw Milosz, who won the prize in 1980. Isaac Bashevis Singer was a Polish born Jewish writer who immigrated to America; he won the Nobel Prize in 1978 and is remembered for works such as The Family Moskat. The latest Polish Nobel Laureate is Wislawa Szymborska, who received the honour in 1996 for her poetic work.
Poland can boast a number of internationally renowned writers, such as Witold Gombrowicz, Stanislaw Lem, Polish-Lithuanian Adam Mickiewicz and even ex-patriot Joseph Conrad who became a household name around the turn of the last century in Britain where he settled. A further leading figure in Polish literature isBoleslaw Prus, he is considered one of the preeminent Polish writers of the late 19th and early 20th century and is remembered for works such as The Doll. Other prominent figures in Polish literature and writing include Bruno Schulz, a writer, literary critic and artist, and the writer Tadeusz Borowski, who wrote extensively about his experiences in Auschwitz during the Second World War. Borowski's most famous work is This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. The Polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapuściński has also been recognised for his dispatches from around the world, including Another Day of Life and The Shadow of the Sun both of which focus on post colonial Africa.
Andrzej Wajda is one of Poland's absolute greatest filmmakers and the most prominent member of the unofficial ‘Polish Film School’. His films have proven that they can stand the test of time as Wajda received an honorary Academy Award in 2000 for this body of cinematic work. Krzysztof Kieslowski won several awards and was nominated three times for an Academy Award. He has left a strong legacy behind both within Polish and French Cinema.
Another Polish-French film-director is Roman Polanski who like Wajda and Kieslowski graduated from the National Film School in Lodz. Polanski won numerous awards for his 2002 film The Pianist, which is about a Jewish musician trying to survive in the Warsaw ghetto during the Second World War.
Frederic Chopin also holds ties to both Poland and France having spent his formative years in Warsaw he later settled in Paris. His classical compositions have achieved international recognition and admiration up until this day and he is rightfully considered as one of the greats within this genre. Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Stanisław Moniuszko and Wojciech Kilar are three other highly acclaimed Polish composers.