GHICA, Elena (nom-de-plume Dora D’Istria), princess (in marriage Duchess Koltsova-Massalskaja). Bucharest 3.2.1828 — Florence 17.11.1888. Romanian Author, Historian and Pioneer of Feminism. Born in the princely family of Wallachia – she was niece to the reigning prince Grigore IV and Alexandra Ghica – as daughter Mihai Ghica, an antiquarian and numismatist, and Ecaterina (Catinca) Faca. Educated in Dresden, Vienna, Venice and Berlin, until 1849. Married with Russian prince Aleksandr Koltsov Massalskij (1826–1875) and, after a while in St.Petersburg, settled with her husband in exile in Switzerland, where she started her literary career as Dora d’Istria and became known as alpinist. She participated in Balkan politics on behalf of Greece and Albanians and traveled much in Europe and North and South America. Finally settled down in Florence. Member of several learned societies. Also known as a painter. In Florence she knew Angelo De Gubernatis.
Publications: Many books on various subjects in French, German, Italian, Romanian and Greek.
– Les femmes en Orient. 1-2. Zürich 1859-60.
Sources: *L. Bordas, several articles in Romanian, listed in ghyka.com (below); *L. Rossi (ed.), Dora d’Istria. I bagni di mare. Upa principessa europea alla scoperta della Riviera. Genoa 1998; http://www.ghyka.com/Divers/Dora%20d’Istria/Dora%20d’Istria.htm; Wikipedia with two portraits and further references.
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