Vladan Desnica was born on 17 September 1905 in Zadar. His grandfather Vladimir Desnica, a landowner in Obrovac in 1930-ties, was a very well known Dalmatian politician and a deputy to the Emperor’s Council in Vienna. His grandmother Olga Janković came from the family of Stojan Janković, a sardar celebrated in folk songs and was the daughter of Ilija Jankovic, the last descendant of this famous family line. By Olga and Vladimir’s marriage, Jankovića castle in Islam Grčki became a possession of the Desnica family. Vladimir Desnica’s son and Vladan’s father, Uroš Desnica, born in 1874, had a Ph.D. in law and was a very distinguished politician, opponent of pro-Austrian politics in Dalmatia. In 1905 Uroš and Vladimir Desnica signed the famous Zadar resolution which blazed trail for creation of Croatian-Serb coalition.
Vladan Desnica completed elementary school in Zadar, and when Zadar became annexed to Italy he continued his high-school education in Split and Šibenik where he obtained his high school diploma in a class which studied classic languages. After graduation from the Zagreb Law School in 1930, he worked for several years at the state attorney’s office in Split where he remained until the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1941, Italian occupying forces took him to Zadar where he served as an interpreter. In 1943 he took refuge in Islam Grčki and from there in 1944 he crossed to the liberated territory. In 1945 with the State Antifascist Council for the National Liberation of Croatia Desnica arrived in Zagreb.
Bibliographic data show that Desnica’s creative interests had a truly wide scope. He wrote poems, humoresques, causeries, short stories, novels, a single drama, one script, one libretto book, then presentations, essays, polemics; theatre, literary, film, musical and visual arts reviews; linguistic debates. Desnica had also translated from three world languages. Still, in history of literature, Desnica will be most remembered as an author of literary works in a stricter sense.
Desnica’s most significant works are Zimsko Ljetovanje (Summer Vacations in Winter), Olupine na suncu (Wrecks in Sunshine), Koncert (Concert), Proljeće u Badrovcu (Spring in Badrovac), Slijepac na žalu (Blind Man on the Shore); Tu, odmah pored nas (Here, Right Next to Us), Proljeća Ivana Galeba (Springs of Ivan Galeb), Fratar sa zelenom bradom (Friar with Green Beard), Ljestve Jakovljeve (Jacob’s Ladders) and O pojmovima tipičnoga i njihovoj neshodnosti na području estetike (On Terms of what is Typical and their Lack of purpose in the Area of Aesthetics). Desnica died on 4 March 1967 in Zagreb and was buried in the family tomb in Islam Grčki next to Kula Stojana Jankovića castle which has been a symbol of cultural development of the Ravni Kotari area. Kula Stojana Jankovića which was torched and almost completely destroyed in the past war, is now seeing some new beginnings. One of the recently initiated cultural events there are the Kula Jankovića Open Days which aim to promote cultural heritage of the northern Dalmatia.