Matéo Maximoff, the first well-known Romani writer in France, was probably born on 17 January 1917, in Barcelona, Spain. In 1920 his family moved to France. Maximoff taught himself to read and write. While the bulk of his literary work is written in French, as a storyteller and translator of the Bible he actively promoted the preservation and acceptance of the Romani language. His literary output is rooted in the tradition of oral storytelling – a basic characteristic of his work that is evident in his French texts as well.

Maximoff’s literary production started in 1938 with the story Les Ursitory (The Ursitory) and ended shortly before his death, in 1999. His nine novels and one collection of short stories make him the most prolific Romani prose writer in France to date. The Ursitory, his best-known work, has been translated into several languages, including English and German.
When he narrated this story in Romani to an audience, Maximoff explained the details of its background.

His novel La septième fille (1958) was published in German Die siebente Tochter in 1967 and an English translation The Seventh Daughter followed in 1979.

Maximoff was the main translator during the First World Romani Congress (London, 1971) and a leading figure at the IRU. In 1985 he was awarded the title of Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature by the French government under then President Jacques Chirac for his lifetime achievement. On 24 November 1999 Matéo Maximoff passed away in Paris at the age of 82.

(Thomas Acton)

Selected works

Maximoff, Matéo. 2001. Die Ursitory. Aus dem Französischen von Walter Fabian. UT 208. Zürich: Unionsverlag. ISBN-13: 978-3-293-20208-5

Maximoff, Matéo. 1996 [1955]. [Le prix de la liberté. Châteauneuf-les-Martigues: Wallâda.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1993. Routes sans roulottes. Champigny sur Marne: Concordia.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1992. Ce monde qui n’est pas le mien. Champigny sur Marne: Concordia.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1990. Dites-le avec des pleurs. Champigny sur Marne: Concordia.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1987. Vinguerka. Champigny sur Marne: Concordia.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1986. La poupée de Mameliga. Champigny sur Marne: Concordia.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1984. Condamné à survivre. Champigny sur Marne: Concordia.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1982 [1958]. La septième fille. Champigny sur Marne: Concordia.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1988. Verdammt zu leben. Zigeunerroman. Gümlingen: Zytglogge. ISBN 3-7296-0232-2

Maximoff, Matéo. 1981 [1955]. Le prix de la liberté. Champigny sur Marne: Concordia.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1970 [1954]. Die Ursitory. Zigeunerroman. Zürich: Manesse Verlag Conzett und Huber. ISBN 13: 9783717512721.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1967. Die siebente Tochter. Roman. Zürich: Flamberg.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1959. Tsiganes. Wanderndes Volk auf endloser Straße. Fotos von Otto Daettwyler. Zürich: Büchergilde Gutenberg.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1957. Savina. Paris: Flammarion.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1955. Der Preis der Freiheit. Roman. Zürich: Morgarten.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1949. The Ursitory. London: Chapman & Hall.

Maximoff, Matéo. 1946. Les Ursitory. Paris: Flammarion.

Further Reading

Blandfort, Julia. 2015. Die Literatur der Roma Frankreichs, Berlin: de Gruyter.

Gartner, Gérard. 1982. »Un écrivain tsigane français Matéo Maximoff«, in: Etudes tsiganes 3: 17–18.

Hübschmannová, Milena. 2002. »Matéo Maximoff«, in: Rombase. Didactically edited Information on Roma, Graz/Prag. = [15.12.2017].