Born in Bialystok, the first child of Mordka and Rozalia Zamenhof. His birth name is recorded as Лазарь - Lazar. His official name is therefore Lazar Markovich Zamenhof.

Read more December 15th 1859

Writes a play about Babel

Starts at high school but has to stop after two months because of illness. In the time off he writes a five-act play in Russian The Tower of Babel.

August 1869

Starts high school

Restarts his first year at high school. He later recalls being the first in his class for the nine years that he was in high school, in both Bialystok and Warsaw.

August 1870

Moves to Warsaw

Ludoviko's father secures a post as a school inspector and the family moves to Warsaw, living at 28 Nowolipie. He soon gets a teaching job at the grammar school in Warsaw, reportedly teaching German.

December 1873

Starts working on his language

Ludoviko starts learning English and realises that languages don't have to be burdened by complicated grammatical forms.


Lingwe Uniwersala

Ludoviko and his friends sing a hymn written in the earliest version of Esperanto, Lingwe Uniwersala.

December 17th 1878

Moves to Moscow

Ludoviko finishes school and moves to Moscow to study, intending to become a doctor. He returns to Warsaw in 1881.

Read more 1879

Restarts work on his language

Ludoviko returns from Moscow and studies at university in Warsaw. He recommences working on his language.

August 1881

A time of change

Ludoviko finishes his studies in Janaury and sets up a clinic in Veisiejai, Lithuania. His request to ask for Klara Silbernik's hand in marriage is declined. Ludoviko retrains as an opthalmologist. His language is now ready.

Read more 1885

Everything changes

Ludoviko gets engaged to Klara. He marries her on August 9th.

On July 26th the first book in Esperanto receives publishing permission. It becomes known as the Unua Libro.

Read more 1887

The Dua Libro (= "Second Book") is published. Ludoviko becomes a father when Adam is born on June 11th. Ludoviko tries to launch the first Esperanto magazine but is denied permission.

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La Esperantisto, the first magazine in Esperanto, is published in September. The Adresaro, a list of the first 1000 learners, is published. Ludoviko's daughter Sofia is born on December 13th.


La Espero

Ludoviko writes a poem in Esperanto and Russian which is published in the Plena Lernolibro de la Tutmonda Lingvo Esperanto por Rusoj. It is called La Espero and will go on to become the hymn of the Esperanto movement.


A time of despair

La Esperantisto closes down. Ludoviko is in financial peril and reduces his Esperanto activity. The magazine Lingvo Internacia appears in December.


The Zamenhofs' third and final child, Lidja, is born on January 29th. Ludoviko creates the Fundamento (Foundation) of Esperanto. English and French Esperantists meet in Boulogne on June 7th. Their later "kongreseto" in Calais and Dover leads to an idea to hold something bigger the following year.


No interpreters needed

Ludoviko is called up for the war in Manchuria but fails his medical. The French government make him a Knight of the Honorary Legion. The first World Esperanto Congress takes place in Boulogne.


The Old Testament

Zamenhof starts work systematically translating the Old Testament.


Finishes his translation of Old Testament. Starts to translate Andersen's Fairy Tales.


La Majstro mortis

Ludoviko dies on April 14th He is buried two days later.

April 14th 1917

Born in Bialystok

Ludoviko was born in his parents' wooden house on Ulica Żydowska (Jewish Street), renamed Ulica Zamenhofa (Zamenhof Street) in 1919.

(There is some confusion about the name of the street. Nearly all biographers name it as Ulica Żielona (Green Street). N. Z. Maimon, however, has confirmed using maps that the now Ulica Zamenhofa stands where Ulica Żydowska was; Ulica Żielona was in a different part of the city.)

The wooden house where Zamenhof was born

Because Bialystok was part of the Russian Empire, his birth certificate is written in Russian and name recorded in Cyrillic and the date is recorded as December 3rd because the Julian calendar (12 days earlier than the Gregorian) was in use at the time.

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Life in Moscow

Ludoviko lived at 27 Tverskaja in a house called New Era (Miklashevskago). He gave up working on his language project and switched to another one, working on a grammar of Yiddish, his native language, between 1879 and 1881. Czar Alexander III is murdered on March 13th and pogroms result in Ukraine. The pogroms reach Warsaw, where Ludoviko returned after two years in Moscow, in December 1881, and Ludoviko comes up with an idea of establishing a Jewish enclave in an empty part of the USA. He meets other people who are thinking the same thing but about Palestine. Ludoviko becomes part of the early Zionish movement, joining the group Ĥibat Zion. He soon becomes disillusioned and leaves, later confirming that his Zionist days didn't last long; in early 1885 he drops Zionism and adopts Hilelism, a philosophy of living by the principle "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

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1885 is the year of change

He goes to Kaunas to ask Aleksander Silbernik's permission to wed his daughter, Klara. Silbernik declines; he is not convinced that Ludoviko will succeed as a doctor. Ludoviko agrees and returns to Warsaw in June to retrain as an opthalmologist, studying at the Jewish hospital. In December he relocates to Plock for five months. returns from Moscow and studies at university in Warsaw. He recommences working on his language.

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