Romanian Writers' Society
The Romanian Writers' Society (Romanian: Societatea Scriitorilor Români) was a professional association based in Bucharest, Romania, that aided the country's writers and promoted their interests. Founded in 1909, it operated for forty years before the early communist regime transformed it into the Writers' Union of Romania.
- Background and founding 1
- Early years 2
World War I and interwar period 3
- Prizes 3.1
- World War II 4
- Final years 5
- Presidents 6
- Notes 7
Background and founding
Toward the end of the 19th century, an increasing number of Romanian writers began to feel the need for a professional association that would defend their interests before editors and bookstores and facilitate mutual aid. Although the circle surrounding Literatură și artă magazine shared these objectives, the idea of a freestanding association developed later and under some pressure from foreign professional organizations concerned about intellectual property rights. Thus, the circle became the Romanian Society for Literature and Art, recognized by law in May 1904. The society included artists of all kinds, with widely diverging interests, as well as artists' descendants and art collectors. Its presidents were N. Petrașcu served as secretary. Its main achievement was an international congress on intellectual property regulation held at Bucharest in 1906. Bucharest city hall donated land for the construction of an artists' house, but it appears the lot was put to a different use. In 1903-1904, the press mentioned other initiatives for setting up a writers' society; one of these belonged to Transylvanians Ilarie Chendi and Ștefan Octavian Iosif.
In 1908, several poets and prose writers, headed by 
Sadoveanu had an important role in the preparatory work, enlisting the help of his friends from Căile Ferate Române The prestige the SSR had acquired ensured that a secessionist group founded by
Liviu Rebreanu subsequently became president, remaining until February 1932; during his term, there was an attempt to address the problem posed by the numerous dilettantes who had become members. The statdutes were modified and committees set up to remove those who did not fulfill the conditions for admission. A 1928 list shows that as of January 1925, there were 18 honorary and 155 active members; at the beginning of 1939, there were 239 active members.
Unsurprisingly, the society's activities diminished once Romania entered World War I in 1916. Its presidents during the war and its aftermath were Zamfirescu (1916), Sadoveanu (1917-1919) and Dragomirescu (1919-1921). During the latter's tenure, the congress of March 1920 decided to expel those writers proven to have collaborated with the pro-German press during the wartime occupation of Bucharest. However, the measure was not put into effect, as such individuals, including Arghezi, Galaction and Dem. Theodorescu, continued to appear in the membership lists. After the 1918 union of Transylvania, the Banat, Bukovina and Bessarabia with Romania, there was a massive influx of new members. Moldovanu, who was president from 1921 to 1923, in fact declared that he wanted all Romanian writers to join. At the beginning of his second term, there were 223 active members; another 40 entered during the subsequent presidencies of Sadoveanu (1923-1924) and Goga (1925).
World War I and interwar period
The society continued to consolidate following its November 1912 congress, when Dragomirescu was elected president. Although King Carol I, membership fees and admission fees to lectures and theatrical shows. By the mid-1910s, the society was beginning to commemorate deceased writers and build monuments in their honor.
Over the following months, the committee offered the honorary presidency to Ploiești, Buzău, Galați and Piatra Neamț, as well as a tour through Bukovina. A temporary headquarters, with a library and donated artistic objects, was set up in a hotel apartment; this was destroyed by fire in January 1911. Conferences in Transylvania's Sibiu (March 1911) and Arad (April-May 1911) proved invigorating and had a notable impact on the Romanian literary scene. The second general meeting, held that November, saw the admission of at least 37 new members, including Alexandru Macedonski, Ioan Alexandru Brătescu-Voinești (later considered a founder), Duiliu Zamfirescu and Dragomirescu, as well as the young Tudor Arghezi, Gala Galaction and Nicolae Davidescu. A new committee was chosen, with Gârleanu as president. Soon, a law recognizing the SSR as a legal entity was adopted, coming into effect in March 1912. Henceforth, it could receive donations and subsidies. A first subsidy, granted by Constantin C. Arion, came to 3000 lei and was divided among the members. An almanac for 1912 and 1913 was printed, although the planned bulletin had yet to appear.
 rail passes; their number fluctuated between 16 and 45. It also funded rest trips to the Sâmbăta de Sus palace and the main hotel in Bușteni. In 1936, Bucharest city hall decided to grant house lots to five writers annually, but the measure ended up being purely financial. A substantial annual expenditure for the SSR were the loans it paid to its members, rarely paid back on time.
The society's prizes served a double role: material rewards for writers, but also the building of reputations. According to a 1924 statute, they were divided into two categories: those established by the society itself and those started by private individuals, institutions or authorities on the society's behalf. The first category comprised three annual prizes; the first two were for poetry and prose, while the third had varying purposes such as debut works, translation or sonnets. The second category included other prizes, generally more substantial: the I. Al. Brătescu-Voinești prize for the novel (20,000 and later 25,000 lei); the C. A. Rosetti prize, started by Viitorul newspaper (20,000 lei); the Socec prize for poetry, from 1924 to 1930 (10,000 lei); the King Carol II prize, from 1934 to 1940 (25,000 lei). Others came from private donations, such as the Ștefan I. Costacopol prize for criticism, involving 6000 lei and awarded from 1931 to 1945; or from prize money that was returned. The statute specified that the awarding committee was to be selected by the SSR leadership. The interwar press was rife with disgruntled comments and contestations of successive prize committees, but overall, very few obvious mistakes were made.
The prose prize went to: G. M. Vlădescu and Galaction (1933), Mircea Damian and Victor Ion Popa (1934), Anton Holban, Neagu Rădulescu, Horia Furtună, Mihail Celarianu and Octav Dessila (1935), Papadat-Bengescu and Mircea Eliade (1936), Mircea Gesticone, Dauș and Ioan Missir (1938), Zamfirescu and Radu Boureanu (1939).
The poetry prize recipients were: George Gregorian and Dan Botta (1933), Dumitrescu, N. Crevedia, Simion Stolnicu and Maria Banuș (1934), Mircea Streinul, Emil Gulian, Maniu and Vlaicu Bârna (1935), Ștefan Baciu (1936), Iulian Vesper, Teofil Lianu and Șerban Bascovici (1938), Celarianu, Emil Giurgiuca, Gyr and Aurel Chirescu (1939).
During the same period, the society hosted or participated in events to commemorate deceased writers, as well as celebrations of living ones for various occasions. Relations with PEN International and with foreign writers' societies were strengthened, their representatives welcomed to Romania. Likewise, SSR committee members were invited to societies and congresses abroad.
World War II
The outbreak of World War II had important ramifications for the society's activities. At the time, its president was N. I. Herescu, who took over after Condiescu's death. Following significant territorial losses by Romania during the summer of 1940, a significant number of writers became refugees. They received aid from the society, which dramatically depleted its funds.
After the Alexandru Busuioceanu, Eugen Bălan, Radu Tudoran, Dumitru Almaș, Dragoș Protopopescu, Otilia Cazimir, Ion Buzdugan and Stelian Constantin-Stelian, in 1941; Alexandru Al. Philippide, Mihail Șerban, Cotruș, Ovidiu Papadima, Boureanu, Octav Sargețiu, Mircea Mărcoiu and Laura Dragomirescu in 1942. The society continued to maintain relations with similar bodies in Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Croatia, Slovakia and Finland.
- (Romanian) Victor Durnea, "Societatea scriitorilor români", in Dacia literară, nr. 2/2008
- Mihail Sadoveanu (1909-1911)
- Emil Gârleanu (1911-1912)
- Mihail Dragomirescu (1912-1914)
- George Diamandy (1914-1916)
- Duiliu Zamfirescu (1916-1917)
- Mihail Sadoveanu (1917-1919)
- Mihai Dragomirescu (1919-1921)
- Corneliu Moldovanu (1921-1923)
- Mihail Sadoveanu (1923-1924)
- Octavian Goga (1924-1925)
- Liviu Rebreanu (1925-1932)
- Corneliu Moldovanu (1932-1935)
- Nicolae M. Condiescu (1935-1939)
- N. I. Herescu (1939-1944)
- Victor Eftimiu (1944-1948)
During the same assembly, Stancu pointedly condemned those who were resisting the nascent regime and its cultural policies. Near the end of the month, a meeting of ethnic Hungarian writers in Writers' Union of Romania. A new statute was adopted, and a literary fund established.
Following the membership overhaul of 1944-1945, the total number of affiliates rose to 268. A further 32 writers were admitted during the May 1946 congress, and probably as many were taken in at the September 1947 assembly that re-elected Eftimiu as president. The new committee also included Galaction, Cocea, Cezar Petrescu, Celarianu, Ion Popescu-Puțuri, Lucia Demetrius, Călugăru, Theodorescu, Dinu Bondi and Stancu as members; Carol Ardeleanu and Dumitru Corbea as accountants; Vintilă Russu-Șirianu, Bogza, Teofil Rudenco, Agatha Bacovia, Toma and C. Argeșanu as the honoring jury; and Baltazar, Aurel Baranga, Oscar Lemnaru, Tudor Șoimaru and Sașa Pană as alternate members.
By May 1945, when Eftimiu was speaking to justify the purges and welcome rising Soviet influence, he was responding to the policies of the new Romanian Communist Party-dominated government. These were in the process of transforming the SSR into a tool for achieving the party's objective of a literary activity entirely subordinate to the authorities. Meanwhile, the society's professional role was largely ceded for a time to the Union of Artists', Writers' and Journalists' Syndicates, a body founded in August 1945. Much easier to manipulate, the latter began handling both material reward and penalties, such as the purges of October 1947.