Debrecen and literature


Endre Ady lived in Debrecen intermittently between the autumn of 1896 and the end of 1899. Encouraged by his parents he arrived in the ‘town of permanence’ to study law in the Debrecen Reformed College. The poet, who was trying his wings at the time, did not find the town outlandish at all, because he happened upon an entire company from Transylvania. After his first tenement at 4 Mester Street he cohabited with two students from the Szilágyság at 33 Darabos Street, where today a plaque commemorates this fact. 


Ady, however, was much more interested in theatre and writing than in law. He published his first articles and poems in Debrecen Főiskolai Lapok, Debreczen Ellenőr, Debreczeni Hírlap, Debreczeni Reggeli Újság and Debreczen-Nagyváradi Értesítő. These papers provided him with his famous fan, ‘Curious Illi’. The secret admirer worked in the glass and porcelain shop of the Kaszanyitzky-ház (57 Piac Street, today Líra Bookshop), and corresponded with the poet lengthily, but never revealed her identity in her intimate letters, only referring to herself as ‘the Curious One’. Ady had no idea that the mysterious young lady was watching him arrive at work from her shop window day after day. Ilona Varga’s secret was only disclosed after the death of the poet. 

In winter it is warm, in summer it is cool – this is where the name of Bunda (‘fur coat’), restaurant of the Queen of England Hotel (21 Kossuth Street), derives from, according to the legends. A plaque on the wall of the building boasts that the bohemian poet often had a few or even more glasses of spirits here to go with his dinner... But Ady was also a regular at Aranybika Szálló (‘Golden Bull Hotel’), popular with writers and poets.


Debrecen proudly advertises the iconic figure of modern poetry having lived here for two years. One of the two Ady statues is found in the Park Forest off Medgyessy Promenade: Miklós Melocco’s 1977 work has the poet contemplating his own death mask. Another important area of the Park Forest is the avenue bearing Ady’s name, and Ady Park is a much beloved place, where we may find the poet himself sitting on a bench (Ádám Győrfi’s sculpture), moreover, we can take a seat beside him, outside the grammar school named after him. Ady’s literary heritage is kept in the Debrecen House of Literature, including the very copy of his first collection, Poems, that was dedicated to the Curious One.