Václav Havel

Czech Republic, 1936 - 2011

Václav Havel was a writer, dissident and politician. He began his career in the theatre, first as a technician, later as a writer: his debut as a playwright was the 1963 satire on bureaucracy, Zahradní slavnost (‘The Garden Party’). After the Prague Spring in 1968, he was no longer allowed to write or perform. Havel was one of the founders of human rights movement Charta 77, and between 1970 and 1989 was sentenced to jail three times, spending five years in prison. In 1989, he played an important role in the Civic Forum, and in 1990, he was elected President of Czechoslovakia in the first free elections. After the division of the country in 1992, he held the presidency of the Czech Republic for two terms, between 1993 and 2003. Besides plays, Havel wrote works such as Living in Truth (1978) and Letters to Olga (1983), as well as many essays, speeches and open letters.