Publishing activities in the years 1901 – 1918

by Eva Augustínová

The period of 1901 – 1918 represented one of the most difficult phases in the history of the Slovak nation, particularly when focusing on the socio-political situation prevailing at that time in Austria-Hungary. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Hungarian Government started escalating a tendency in its policy, which had never been seen before. Thanks to the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the Hungarian ruling class became the sovereign of political life in Hungary. Its political aim was clear – to unite all the peoples of Hungary and create a unified Hungarian nation. There are several reasons why it succeeded, except for a couple of exceptions. During this period the Slovak national movement found itself in an extremely difficult situation. Although the major Slovak nationalists (Ľ. Štúr, M. Hodža, J. M. Hurban, J. Chalúpka and many others) contributed to the enactment of literary Slovak, the emergence of Slovak grammar schools and the establishment of the national revivalist, cultural and publishing institution Matica Slovenská, they did not have successors.
Fewer voices echoed the battle for the nation, and therefore the Hungarian government Magyarized the Slovak nation in an easier manner. Moreover, in Slovakia at that time there was not a political, administrative, or cultural center, lacking a single center and instead of a capital the national movement concentrated in the smaller Slovak towns. Slovakia was economically very weak, unable to break free of the throttling pressure and thus indirectly provided the Hungarian government with the possibility of implementing the concept of a single Hungary. In the early 20th century publishing in Slovakia was limited to several Slovak towns – Martin, Ružomberok, Liptovský Mikuláš, Trnava, Skalica and Bratislava. Among the largest Slovak publishers of this period were the Letterpress Printing Shareholders Association in Martin, Ján Párička in Ružomberok, the Association of Saint Vojtech in Trnava and Tranoscius in Liptovský Mikuláš.


The Letterpress Printing Shareholders Association, which was set up in early March 1868, was also the first industrial enterprise with Slovak owners. The focus of these activities was the central Slovak town of Martin, which over the next decade became the most important printing center, not only in our country.
The initiative to establish the Letterpress Printing Shareholders Association emerged from the environment of Matica Slovenská. However, Matica did not have enough funds to build a modern printer. Therefore it chose at that time a quite widespread business model – a shareholders association. One of its initiators was the writer, editor and co-founder of Slovak Matica – Ján Francisci Rimavský. This national revivalist was a chairman in the Association for many years as well as an enthusiastic organizer of printing and publishing activities. By 1918 the Martin Association printed 731 books and 378 journals at the total cost of several million copies. At that time more than three quarters of the printed materials distributed in Slovakia originated here. The Shareholders Association also printed the majority of periodicals that have their important place in the history of our journalism. They included The National Harbinger, People’s News, Orol, Nourishment, Slovak Perspectives and several others. The Association also printed the publication of private publishers and book publication associations and institutions, which then evolved into publishing activities, for example, Nourishment, the Slovak Choir and the Slovak Museum Association. The Association also printed the major editions of this period, for example, Slovak Amateur Theater, Fun and Informative Books, Theater Library, Slovak National Jaunter and Roman Bibliotheca.


In 1909 Karol Salva bought the Ján Párička printing company, which had been operating in the town since 1888. The Párička company issued and printed 120 books and some magazines, for example, Home and School and Stream. The most significant achievements at Párička included the publishing of the Slovak Library. The edition’s conception, frequency and the extent of subsequent Slovak Library editions was due to František Votruba. It was based on original works by Slovak authors, for example J. G. Tajovského, J. Jesenského, P. Beblavého, A. Janovskej, Š. Kosorkina, A. Bieleka, and some translated works by Chekhov, H. Senkiewicza, G. de Maupassant, M. Czajkowskoho and others. The choice of original authors and the translated work is evidence of a deliberate policy that followed the consolidation and development of the traditions of a realistic line and folksiness in our literature. From 1910 – 1911 J. G. Tajovský edited the edition, and Párička in collaboration with Votruba from 1912 – 1914.
Ján Párička is also known as the publisher of popular calendar prayer books. Since he was a supporter of the Hlasists, it was obvious that the ideological program based on the real needs of the small man, the idea of Slavic mutuality and Czechoslovak orientation is also reflected in the pages of his calendar prayer books. In their publishing he worked closely with Votruba as well as many young writers and cultural workers.


The idea to establish a nationwide association with the wide participation of members from the common classes matured in the Slovak nation from the Bernolak movement. Its implementation had several forms, the culmination of which should clearly be considered the founding of Matica Slovenská, and a little later the Saint Adalbert Association.
The Saint Adalbert Association, under the intentions of its devisers, especially its founder Andrej Radlinský, was supposed to have been comprised of priests, teachers, youth as well as peasants and workers from all over Slovakia. Among them they were supposed to have expanded religious and moral education, practical Catholicism and, moreover, enhance basic schooling.
The activities of Andrej Radlinský and his associates were far-sighted, indeed providential, that before the formation of the Saint Vojtech Association they were seeking to expand the association idea as much as possible and create conditions for books to be given to people. They sought to make an impression with literature, in particular to accommodate readers with basic education. Therefore the latest translations of the Holy Scriptures were first, prepared by several members of the Saint Vojtech Association, continuing with prayer and hymn books, and finally textbooks. In this way, the association provided not only spiritual nourishment, but also linguistic unity, because all these kinds of books were used in churches, schools and households while possessing a significant importance in preserving Slovak, along with Slovak enclaves outside the territory of present Slovakia in the whole of Hungary and other European countries as well as overseas.
The association gave its members a share of a book, a single copy for a full member, two copies for founding members, of all the books published. The association had its own managers out in the field in different towns and villages, through which the association books were delivered to members. The Saint Vojtech Association most often printed its books with the Letterpress Printing Shareholders Association in Martin, which suited this association, because it published religious literature with a high printing; for example, in 1906 the Saint Vojtech Association published 50,000 copies of Radlinský’s Devout Outpourings.


The publishing and bookselling shareholders association Tranoscius was established at a general meeting on 27 April 1898. It was domiciled in Liptovský Mikuláš and its managers were Jur Janoška and Ľudovít Šenšel. As a name the publisher adopted the Latinized form of the name belonging to Juraj Tranovský, famous theologian and author of the Lutheran hymnal Cithara Sanctorum as well as Evangelical minister acting in Liptovský Mikuláš.
The role of the association was to issue and encourage the publication of religious and other literature in the Slovak language. It was a response to the then-national pressure in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The objectives of the association were defined by its founder as follows: “to buy and sell everything, Evangelical books allowed in our territory, art subjects and teaching resources, to publish Evangelical books, papers, magazines in the Slovak language on a person’s own and foreign account, as well as other booksellers’ items belonging to the field.”
The first book published at the cost of the association was Záturecký’s Treatise No Excuses. 3,000 copies were published. The second book was Mock’s work entitled Follow Me.
Tranoscius did not have its own printing press, but it was known that it permitted publications to be printed with a variety of printers from Ružomberok with K. Salva, and to Prague with companies such as V. Kotrva, Neubert and others. Thereby it tried to support its own printers and carried out a kind of social work.
From 1901 – 1918 there was the publication of religious books: A Small Prayerbook from Ján Kmeti, A Reader for Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession Elementary Schools by Rehor Uram, School Songbook by Martin Ježo, notated according to the Tranovský Choral Book and Songbook, The Evangelical Reader by Rehor Uram, A Doctrine on Sacred Scriptures of 5th and 6th Class for Evangelical Elementary Schools by Daniel Bodický, The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther and A Short History of Christian Churches for Elementary Schools.
The association also published a variety of magazines, for example, The Children’s Friend, Evangelical Youth, The New Genus, The Cross of Christ, For Dear Youth, The Life Purpose of Evangelical Slovak Youths, Into the Heights and Spikelets from Samuel Štefan Osuský, Emil Boleslav Lukáč and Ján Gavalec. From 1894 it also published the Tranovský Evangelical Calendar Prayer Book. In addition to these four publishers about a hundred small publishers participated in book publishing from 1901 – 1918. They were private persons, associations, cooperatives, journal editorials, publishers and printers.


FRANKOVIČOVÁ, Lenka. Vydávanie slovenských učebníc na pozadí maďarizácie. In: Knižnica, 2012, roč. 13, č. 3, s. 35.
GEŠKOVÁ, Želmíra. Kalendáre Jána Páričku. Dostupné na:
NITRANSKÝ, Tibor. Kapitoly z dejín vydávania a rozširovania literatúry. Bratislava: Vydavateľstvo Obzor, 1972, s. 128-129.
Od začiatku tlačili knihy. Dostupné na:
Spolok sv. Vojtecha. História. Dostupné na:
ŠENŠEL, Ľ. Sobrané spisy Dra. Juraja Janošku 1. diel. Liptovský Mikuláš: Tranoscius, 1932.