He remains without detractors, his greatness acknowledged by all: he is remembered as a shining example of the nation’s best and brightest.
— Zoltán Ferenczi
Known as the first great master of the Hungarian realist novel, Baron József Eötvös (b. Buda, 3 September 1813 – d. Pest, 2 February 1871) was a writer, poet, lawyer, reform politician and statesman. His life and work were devoted to peacefully promoting the progress of the Hungarian nation.
József Eötvös was the son of Baron Ignác Eötvös and Lady Anna Lilien. He was schooled in Buda and went on to study philosophy and history at the university in Pest. One of his instructors, József Pruzsinszky, had a strong influence, awakening his interest in politics and philosophy. He was also a close friend of the lawyer and history writer László Szalay, who strengthened his predilection for literature.
Following university, he briefly worked as a government official, but then left the country after a failed romance and travelled around Europe. Upon his return, he wrote his first major novel, The Carthusians. In 1845, he published The Village Notary, which achieved international success and was the first work of Hungarian literature to receive positive critical acclaim abroad on the basis of the translations. In 1847, his work Hungary in 1514 was published, which focused on the peasant revolt led by Dózsa. Along with his prose works, he also published numerous poems, theatrical pieces and philosophical writings.
He was elected as a member of the literary group Kisfaludy Society on 25 November 1838 and later became its president on 24 May 1860. He became a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1835, was elected as a regular member in 1839 and was later appointed President in 1866.
He married his wife, Ágnes Rosty, in 1842. To this happy marriage were born three daughters and two sons, one of whom went on to become the famous physicist, Loránd Eötvös.
As a politician, he took a centrist position, between Széchenyi and Kossuth. In 1837, he was appointed council judge for the district of Eperjes and participated in the National Diet of 1839-40 as a member of the higher council. During the Revolution of 1848, he held a post in one of the first Hungarian government ministries, where he was responsible for public worship and instruction. In 1867, he was appointed Minister of Public Worship and Education in the Andrássy cabinet.
He died in 1871 in Pest. His remains are interred in the family vault in Ercsi.
The Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Hungary’s central bank) is issuing this silver coin to mark the 200th anniversary of his birthday. The coin was designed by Géza Kertész; the volume depicted on the front symbolises the vast literary work of József Eötvös, with the back featuring a portrait of him.
Denomination 3000 forint
Metal & Fineness Silver .925
Total weight 12,5 g
Diameter 30 mm
Issue limit 2 000 pcs BU 3 000 pcs Proof
Designer KERTÉSZ Géza