Mieczysławska Raczyńska, Aniela
Aniela Mieczysławska Raczyńska (1910-1998), de domo Lilpop, was a Polish émigré activist and a longtime partner of Edward Raczyński, Polish President in exile.
Aniela came from a pre-war Polish intelligentsia elite. Her father was a renowned architect. Aniela, along with her three sisters were a part of a colourful cultural life of Polish artists in the 1930s. They were known as “Lilpop sisters”. Among their closest friends were such figures of cultural environment like: Wieniawski, Słonimski, Tuwim, Ejsmont, Iwaszkiewicz, Stryjeński, Rubinstein, Czapski. The rumour has it that the famous Iwaszkiewicz’s novel “Panny z wilka” (1931) was based on the characters of “Lilpop sisters”. They were in the centre of lively avant-garde environment, befriending poets, writers, actors, painters, artists.
Aniela’s first fiancé died suddenly. She soon married Polish diplomat Witold Friedman Mieczysławski which was believed to be a marriage of convenience. However, it lasted just a few years. When the Second World War started, Aniela lived with Mieczysławski in Romania. She engaged in helping war refugees. In 1941 she evacuated to France and then U.S.A. – without her husband, since the two were already separated. She lived in New York, working as a shop assistant and helping Polish emigrants in the evenings. In 1950 she hosted Józef Czapski, who helped her with fundraising for Jerzy Giedroyc’s Kultura in Paris. The two became lifetime friends.
In 1961 she relocated from New York to London to be with her last long-time partner, Count Edward Raczyński (1891-1993), former Polish Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Great Britain, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and President of Poland in exile from 1979 to 1986. The two of them officially married in 1991, when Aniela’s previous husband passed away.
From the late 1940s to the 1970s, Mieczysławska was a close collaborator, friend and fundraiser of Jerzy Giedroyc, chief editor of the France-based Kultura monthly and founder of the Literary Institute in Paris. Her friend Józef Czapski painter, soldier, and writer, was another towering figure of the Kultura milieu. During her long relationship with Count Raczyński, who was one of the leaders of the Polish exile community in Great Britain and worldwide, Mieczysławska stepped into the role of the First Lady taking a leading role in the social and political life of émigrés. She organized numerous fundraising initiatives to help Polish cultural institutions abroad and actively supported anti-communist dissidents and opposition activists in People's Poland. She was an invaluable fundraiser, successfully gathering money and mobilising émigré elites. Aniela was well-known of her adamant attitude towards communist regime, as well as towards émigré leaders who represented softer approach. Well-known anecdote states that when Aniela saw Antoni Słonimski (one of her closest pre-war Polish friends) on the street of New York, she refused to greet him, since he has never openly opposed the socialist regime in Poland.
London, United Kingdom
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- Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland
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Author(s) of this page
- Kunicki, Mikołaj
- Tołłoczko-Suchańska, Barbara