Mihai Eminescu (January 15, 1850 – June 15, 1889), born Mihail Eminovici , was a late Romantic poet, the best-known and most influential Romanian poet. Famous poems include ("Evening Star"), Odă în metru antic ( Ode in ancient meter ), and the five Scrisori ( Epistles/Satires ). Eminescu was active in the Junime literary society, and served as editor of Timpul , the official newspaper of the Conservative Party.
His father was Gheorghe Eminovici from Călineşti, a Romanian village in Suceava county, Bucovina, which was then part of the Austrian Empire (while his father came from Banat). He crossed the border into Moldavia, settling in , near the town of Botoşani. He married Raluca Iuraşcu, an heiress of an old aristocratic Moldavian family.
Mihail (as he appears in baptismal records) or Mihai (the more common form that he used) was born in Botoşani, Moldavia, Romania. He spent his early childhood in Botoşani and Ipoteşti, in his parents' family home. From 1858 to 1866 he attended school in Cernăuţi. He finished 4th grade as the 5th of 82 students, after which he attended two years of gymnasium .
The first evidence of Eminescu as a writer is in 1866. In January of that year Romanian teacher Aron Pumnul died and his students in Cernăuţi published a pamphlet, Lăcrămioarele învăţăceilor gimnaziaşti ( Tears of the Gymnasium Students ) in which a poem entitled La mormântul lui Aron Pumnul ( At the Grave of Aron Pumnul ) appears, signed "M. Eminovici". On February 25th his poem De-aş avea ( If I were to have ) was published in Iosif Vulcan's literary magazine Familia in Pest. This began a steady series of published poems (and the occasional translation from German). Also, it was Iosif Vulcan, who disliked the Slavic source suffix " -ici " of the young poet's last name, that chose for him the more apparent Romanian "nom de plume" Mihai Eminescu .
In 1867 he joined the troupe of as clerk and prompter; the next year he transferred to the troupe of . Both of these were among the leading Romanian theatrical troupes of their day, the latter including and Fanny Tardini-Vlădicescu. He soon settled in Bucharest, where at the end of November he became a clerk and copyist for the National Theater. Through this period, he continued to write and publish poems. He also paid his rent by translating hundreds of pages of a book by Heinrich Theodor Rotscher, although this never resulted in a completed work. Also at this time he began his novel Geniu pustiu ( Wasted Genius ), published posthumously in 1904 in an unfinished form.
On April 1, 1869 he was a co-founder of the "Orient" literary circle, whose interests included the gathering of Romanian folklore, and documents relating to Romanian literary history. On June 29, various members of the "Orient" group were commissioned to go to different provinces. Eminescu was assigned Moldavia. That summer, he quite by chance ran into his brother Iorgu, a military officer, in Cişmigiu Gardens, but firmly rebuffed Iorgu's attempt to get him to renew ties to his family.
Still in summer 1869, he left Pascaly's troupe and traveled to Cernăuţi and Iaşi. He renewed ties to his family; his father promised him a regular allowance to pursue studies in Vienna in the fall. As always, he continued to write and publish poetry; notably, on the occasion of the death of the former ruler of Wallachia, Barbu Dimitrie Ştirbei, he published a leaflet, La moartea principelui Ştirbei .