Biography and History

Nikos Pappas was a Greek poet, critic, and lawyer. He was born in Trikala, Thessaly in 1906. In 1927 he graduated from the Law School of the University of Athens and the same year he left to pursue his studies in Germany, where he remained until 1928. From 1939 and for thirty years he practiced as lawyer and served in the Legal Council of State of Greece. His first appeareance in literature was in 1928 with the publication of his poems in the journal Nea Hestia. In 1930 he published his first poetry collection Mataia Logia [Vain Words]. He collaborated with the journals Nea Hestia, Hellēnika Grammata [Greek Letters], To Xekinēma [The Beginning], To Neon Kratos [The New State], Neohellēnika Grammata [Modern Greek Letters], Makedonikes Hēmeres, and many others where he published poems, translations, and essays. He also collaborated with the newspaper Kathēmerinē (1935-1940). He was editor and manager of the journal of Trikala Eparchia (1931-1932), member of the committee of the journal of Chalkis Neohellēnika Sēmeiōmata (1936), as well as Neōn Rhythmōn (1949-1950) and the Journal of the Poets (1956-1958). In 1936 he married the poet Rita Boumē. He received the First and Second National Prize for Poetry (1959 and 1964 respectively). He was also a member of the Hetairia Hellēnōn Logotechnōn [Hellenic Literary Society]. He translated works of Brecht, Rilke, Apollinaire, and others, and his own works were translated into English, French, German, Polish and Italian. He died in 1997.

Rita Boumē Papa was born in 1906 in the island of Syros and died in 1986 in Athens. She was educated in Greek public schools and spent one year in a French boarding school. At the age of fifteen she went to live with a wealthy older brother and his Italian wife in Syracuse, Sicily (Italy). She left Sicily in 1929 and returned to Syros. In 1936 she married the critic and poet Nikos Pappas and lived with him in Trikala, Thessaly, until 1939, at which time they moved to Athens. She wrote and spoke on many social and political issues and participated in international conferences on children and women. With her husband she produced a two-volume Anthology of World Poetry (1952, 1963). She became a prolific literary figure, running journals, writing for children, publishing her own verse collections (seventeen, between 1930 and 1977), contributing a number of entries to the Greek Encyclopedia of Women (1969) and translating: Carducci, Poems, Carlo Levi, Christ Stopped at Eboli, Sholokhov’s And Quiet Flows the Don, Pasternak, Anna Akmatova, Brecht, Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, and Samuel Beckett. She adapted Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables for the theatre (1952). Her verse collection A Thousand Murdered Girls (1963) represents the last words of women sent to court-martial and executed after participating in the resistance, some of them defended by her husband Nikos. She received the First Prize for Poetry from the Academy of Athens for her 1935 collection entitled Hoi Sphygmoi tēs Sigēs mou [The Pulses of My Silence]. She also received the First Prize of the National Resistance for her 1945 publication, Athēna-Dekemvrēs 1944 [Athens-December 1944], as well as others awards. One of her last poetic works, Phōs Ilaron [Light Serene], a highly personal meditative poem published in 1966, seems to be both an appreciation of her past and a justification or apology for the way she had led her life. In her later years she turned to prose.

Source: From the finding aid for C0878

  • Nikos Pappas and Rita Boumē Papa Papers. 1932-1988 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0878

    Consists of personal papers of the Greek poets and writers, Nikos Pappas and his wife, Rita Boumē Papa, including correspondence, autograph manuscripts and typescripts of published and unpublished poetry, articles, talks, clippings, and other printed material.