Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Havel was born in Prague. Following the Moscow-backed coup of 1948 he and his family were shunned for having been wealthy capitalists and pro-German collaborateurs (collaborants according to the Communist party daily Rudé Právo from 23.2.1989) and he had difficulties studying beyond the basic level, but took evening classes and studied briefly at the Czech Technical University (1957). After military service (1957-59) he worked as a stagehand in Prague (Theatre On the Balustrade) and studied drama by correspondence. His first publicly performed play was The Garden Party (1963). In 1964 he married Olga Splichalova.
Following the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968 he was banned from the theatre and became more politically active. This culminated with the publication of the Charter 77 manifesto. His political activities cost him five years in prison. He was a leading figure in the Velvet Revolution of 1989. On December 29, 1989, as head of the Civic Forum, he was elected president by the Federal Assembly.
After the free elections of 1990 he retained the presidency. He strongly supported the retention of the federation of the Czechs and the Slovaks, despite increasing tension. On July 3 1992 the federal parliament did not elect Havel - the only candidate for presidency - due to a missing support by Slovak MPs. After the Slovaks had issued their Declaration of Independence, he resigned as president on July 20.
When the Czech Republic was created he stood for election there on January 26, 1993, and won. Despite illness and three operations he was re-elected in 1998. He left office after his second term as Czech president ended on February 2, 2003; Václav Klaus, one of his greatest political opponents, was elected his successor on February 28, 2003.
Samuel Beckett's play Catastrophe is dedicated to him.
Havel's plays include:
- The Garden Party (1963)
- The Memorandum (1965)
- The Increased Difficulty of Concentration (1968)
- The Beggar's Opera (1975)
- Audience (1978)
- Private View (1978)
- Protest (1978)
- Largo desolato (1985)
- Temptation (1986)
- Redevelopment (1987)
Havel's books (In English) include:
- Letters to Olga (1988)
- Open Letters (1991)
- Disturbing the Peace (1991)
- Václav Havel's official website
- An unusual speech for a politician, arguing for the need for transcendent values in political life.
- Brief bio at Radio Prague
- Ambassador of Conscience at Amnesty International
- Hero file at More or Less
- Havel, his memories and the world- International Herald Tribune (21 October 2004)
- Interview transcript at PBS
- Velvet President essay
- U.S. Medal of Freedom
- Václav Havel: Heir to a Spiritual Legacy
|President of the Czech Republic|
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