150 YEARS FROM THE BIRTH OF PENELOPE DELTA
Penelope Delta was a pioneer of children’s literature in Greece and perhaps the most important Greek woman in turbulent times for Hellenism, with rich philanthropic activity. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, she was daughter of Emmanuel Benakis, later mayor of Athens and national benefactor, and wife of Phanariote merchant Stephanos Deltas. She became close friends with the leading statesman of the time, Eleftherios Venizelos, and had a passionate romance with Ion Dragoumis, which remained platonic.
Encouraged by poet Kostis Palamas, Penelope Delta wrote historical novels for children, with themes related to contemporary national issues (In the Heroic Age of Basil II: Emperor of Byzantium, For the sake of the fatherland, The secrets of the swamp), as well as other books, including A tale without a name, Trelantonis, Mangas and The life of Christ. She aspired, as she said, to “awaken in Greek children noble and lofty ideals”, instilling in them such values as patriotism, friendship and love. Generations of Greek children have been raised with her books, which remain popular. Penelope Delta took her own life when the Nazis entered Athens in 1941.
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