Vasile Alecsandri, (21 July 1821–22 August 1890) was a Romanian poet, playwright, politician, and diplomat. He collected Romanian folk songs and was one of the principal animators of the 19th century movement for Romanian cultural identity and union of Moldavia and Wallachia.
The family prospered in the lucrative business of salt and cereals trade. In 1828, they purchased a large estate in Mirceşti, a village near Siret River. The young Vasile spent time there studying with a devout monk from Maramureş, Gherman Vida, and playing with Vasile Porojan, a Gypsy boy who became a dear friend. Both characters would later appear in his work.
In 1840, he became director of the National Theatre of Iaşi. He wrote his first play, "Farmazonul din Hârlău", and, in 1844, his second, "Iorgu de la Sadagura", a comedy. Both saw the stage to mild acclaim. He contributed to Dacia literară, the first Romanian language literary magazine, founded by Mihail Kogălniceanu, as well as to Albina Românească, the first Romanian language newspaper in Moldavia. He also edited Propăşirea (renamed Foaie Ştiinţifică şi Literară, 1843), together with Kogălniceanu, Ion Ghica, and Petre Balş.
They cruised to Austria, Germany, and to Vasile's former romping grounds, France. Elena's chest illness aggravated in Paris, and after a brief stint in Italy, they both boarded a French ship to return home 25 April 1847. Tragedy struck on the ship, when Elena died in her lover's arms. Alecsandri channeled his mourning into a poem, "Steluţa" (Little Star). Later, he dedicated his "Lăcrimioare" (Little Tears) collection of poems to her.
After two years, he returned to a triumphant staging of his new comedy, "Chiriţa în Iaşi". He toured the Moldavian countryside, collecting, reworking, and arranging a vast array of Romanian folklore, which he published in two installments, in 1852 and 1853. The poems included in these two enormously popular collections became the cornerstone of the emerging Romanian identity, especially the ballads "Mioriţa", "Toma Alimoş", "Mânăstirea Argeşului", and "Novac şi Corbul." His volume of original poetry, "Doine şi Lăcrămioare", further cemented his reputation.
Broadly revered in Romanian cultural circles, he oversaw the establishment of "România Literară", to which writers from both Moldavia and Wallachia contributed. He was one of the most vocal unionists, supporting the union the two Romanian provinces, Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1856, he published in Mihail Kogălniceanu's newspaper, Steaua Dunării, the poem "Hora Unirii", which became the anthem of the unification movement.
Between 1862 and 1875, Alecsandri wrote 40 lyrical poems, including "Miezul Iernii, "Serile la Mirceşti, "Iarna," "La Gura Sobei", "Oaspeţii Primăverii", and "Malul Siretului." He also dabbled in epic poems, collected in the volume "Legende" , and he dedicated a series of poems to the soldiers who participated in the Romanian War of Independence.
In 1879, his "Despot-Vodă" drama received the award of the Romanian Academy. He continued to be a prolific writer, finishing a fantastic comedy, "Sânziana şi Pepelea," (1881) and two dramas, "Fântâna Blanduziei" (1883) and "Ovidiu" (1884).
Long suffering from cancer, Alecsandri died in 1890 at his estate in Mirceşti.