Born Nov. 11 (23), 1851, in the village of Ozkabaliai, in present-day Vilkavishkis Raion; died Feb. 16, 1927, in Vilnius. Lithuanian bourgeois liberal public figure and scholar in the fields of Lithuanian history, archaeology, and ethnography. Came from a peasant family.
Basanavičius graduated from the department of medicine at Moscow University in 1879. He worked as a physician in Bulgaria for some 20 years (until 1905) and then returned to Lithuania. In 1883 he founded the first Lithuanian bourgeois-liberal newspaper, Ausra (Dawn), which was published illegally in East Prussia. In 1907 he organized the Lithuanian Scientific Society in Vilnius. In early 1919, Basanavičius became director of the historical and ethnographic museum in Soviet Vilnius. He collected and published nine volumes of Lithuanian folktales and songs and wrote a number of works on the history, culture, and folklore of the Lithuanian people, including Nature in Lithuanian Songs and Tales (1915) and Lithuanian Laments (1926). In several of his works he idealized the Lithuanian past. Basanavičius revealed the predatory nature of the 13th- and 14th-century crusades against Lithuania in On the Relations Between Christianity and the Ancient Lithuanian Religion and Culture (1913) and On the Sites of Ancient Lithuanian Towns (1891).
REFERENCESLietuviy literatūros istoriija, vol. 2. Vilnius, 1958.
Lietuviu tautosakos apybraiža. Vilnius, 1963.
IU. I. ZHIUGZHDA