Maria Dąbrowska, born Marja Szumska, came from a family of Polish landed gentry, though they were not wealthy. She was educated in Poland, at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, and Belgium. She began to publish articles in newspapers in 1909 and her first short story appeared in 1914. She is best known for her four-volume epic novel, Noce i dnie (1932–1934), which chronicled the lives of an ordinary Polish family from the 1860s until the eve of World War I. Her many plays included historical dramas such as Stanislaw i Bogomil (1945). She also produced a series of critical essays on the Polish-born English writer Joseph Conrad. During the Nazi Occupation of Poland in World War II, she stayed in Warsaw and supported the cultural life of the Polish underground movement. She is considered in Poland as one of the most important Polish writers of the 20th century.