Jovan Ilić
Jovan N. Ilic (1824-1901).jpg
Minister of Justice
Principality of Serbia
In office
MonarchMilan Obrenović
Preceded byĐorđe Cenić
Succeeded byStojan Veljković
Personal details
Born(1824-08-15)15 August 1824
Resnik, Principality of Serbia
DiedMarch 12, 1901(1901-03-12) (aged 76)
 Kingdom of Serbia
ChildrenVojislav Ilić, Dragutin Ilić
Alma materLicej Kneževine Srbije
Occupationpolitician, poet, writer

Jovan "Jova" Ilić (Belgrade, 15 August 1824 – Belgrade, 12 March 1901) was a Serbian poet and politician.


Ilić family of Belgrade became a well-known Serbian family through one ancestor of humble origin. That was Jovan Ilić's father, a merchant who arrived in Belgrade from Niš and married his mother, who came from Podgorica. His business thrived and after his death, he left a fortune large enough so that his widow Stana could afford the best education for Jovan.

Few boys ever grew up in a family atmosphere of such ease and sociability, such freedom and culture, as did Jovan Ilić. As he matured and got married, he too created the same atmosphere for his young, and growing family. Jovan Ilić and his wife Smiljana had seven children, four boys, and three girls, but only one girl lived to adulthood, the other two girls died as toddlers. The four boys followed their father's footsteps, taking up literature as their life's work. Vojislav Ilić, a poet, was recognized as the preeminent poet of his day; Milutin, Dragutin and Žarko wrote books and were well known in their own right.

The independently-minded Ilić was extremely broad in his interests. Artists, writers, and poets were welcome at his Belgrade home, and their work was always being eagerly enjoyed and discussed there. Among young Jovan's earliest impressions were those "of the great and urbane Vuk Karadžić's occasional presence" and of the voice of Joksim Nović-Otočanin, "proceeding from my father's library" and uttering "the formidable words: 'Come here, little boy, and show me how you read!'" and then of Jovan Subotić himself "enormously big in the sunny light of the animated room dressed in all his sartorial elegance." Nikanor Grujić, Vasa Živković, Matija Ban, Medo Pucić, Danilo Medaković and others. Later when his sons were growing up, among the guests were: Milovan Glišić, Janko Veselinović, Simo Matavulj, Svetolik Ranković, Stevan Sremac, Radoje Domanović, Milorad Petrović Seljančica, Aleksa Šantić, Jovan Skerlić, Stevan Mokranjac, Stevan M. Luković.

Jovan Ilić belonged to the first generation of Serbian university students (Petar Protić-Skopljanin, Jevrem Grujić, Milovan Janković, Dimitrije Milaković, Dimitrije Petrović, Jovan Ristić, Ljubomir P. Nenadović, etc.) from Turkish-occupied Serbian territories who studied abroad, and returned home bringing the European ideals of democracy, constitutionalism, nationalism, Pan-Slavism, and civil liberties. Ilić, like many of his peers, participated in founding the "Association of Serbian Youth" (the first founding president was Jevrem Grujić), a group that nurtured and disseminated ideas of liberal nationalism and Slavic unity. During 1848 the society developed from an ordinary literary group into a strong association of secondary school and lyceum students as well as university students and graduates from all over the Austrian Empire. The association was modeled after revolutionary and literary youth organizations of the past two or three decades (since the founding of Matica srpska in Budapest in 1825). Ilić was sensitive to the revolutionary vibrations of the time; he cooperated with the Serbian youth movement under Habsburg yoke and participated in the events of 1848 in Vojvodina where Serbian demands for collective rights came to clash with Hungarian liberal nationalist revolutionaries who sought to combine their emancipation with national homogenization. In the Association of Serbian Youth's first publication "Neven-Sloga," Ilić published a poem called "Slava" in which he wrote, among other things:

I am a Serb of the Slavic race; my heart is longing for a new Slavic life. O Slavs, dear brothers, our hour has come.

Jovan Ilić, along with professor of economics Milovan Janković and politician Jevrem Grujić, played an important role in the St. Andrew's Day Assembly in 1858 when the call for a parliamentary check on monarchic power for the first time gained support. Through their collective effort, the ideas of Slavic brotherhood were intertwined with the doctrines of liberalism. The generation of liberals in Serbia, which emerged in the late-1840s and 1850s, believed that individual freedom and the 'progress of the nation' could be secured through the institution of parliamentary representation.

His poetry was first influenced by classical poetry and later by the national epic poetry of the time. Jovan Ilić was a cabinet minister and a member of the Privy Council (Državni Savet).

He died in Belgrade on 12 March 1901.


  • Pesme, Belgrade, 1854
  • Pesme (II), Novi Sad, 1858
  • Pastiri, Belgrade, 1868
  • Tapija, Belgrade, 1879
  • Dahire, Belgrade, 1891
  • Pesme (III), Belgrade, 1894
  • Kratka istorija Grka i Turaka za mladež, Belgrade, 1853
  • Pogled na sadašnje stanje naše, Belgrade, 1859
  • Srpska Pismenica, Novi Sad, 1860
  • Pogled na sadašnje stanje naše, Belgrade, 1859
  • Srpska Pismenica, Novi Sad 1860

See also


  • Translated and adapted from Jovan Skerlić's Istorija nove srpske književnosti (Belgrade, 1914, 1921) pages 296-298.
  • Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts:,
Government offices
Preceded by
Đorđe Cenić
Minister of Justice of Serbia
Succeeded by
Stojan Veljković