A Ukrainian ethnographer, literary and art critic, Vasyl Horlenko (1853–1907) was a descendant of an old and noble Ukrainian family, the members of which included several kozak colonels. He initially studied at Nizhyn College, Ukraine, and then at Sorbonne University, France. Horlenko returned to Ukraine in 1882.
He published numerous book and play reviews, studies on Ukrainian literature, folklore and ethnography, and literary portraits. The last were dedicated to both famous and emerging writers. Among others, they featured the poet and playwright Ivan Kotliarevsky, poet and artist Taras Shevchenko, poet, writer and critic Ivan Franko, writer and playwright Hryhoriy Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, romantic poet Yakiv Shchoholiv, writer and scholar Ivan Nechui-Levytsky, and writer Panas Myrny (Panas Rudchenko).
As part of his ethnographic activities, Vasyl Horlenko organised and undertook a number of expeditions; during two of them he was accompanied by Mykola Kostomarov, a distinguished historian, publicist and writer.
Vasyl Horlenko became seriously ill in 1906 and died the following year in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He was buried in his native village of Yaroshivka, (now the village of Ukrainske, Talalaivka district, Chernihiv region, Ukraine). An extract from Vasyl Horlenko’s article ‘Skarzhynska’s museum in Lubny’ (1890) is included in our The Story of Pysanka: A Collection of Articles on Ukrainian Easter Eggs (2019).