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M. CepenkovMARKO KOSTOV CEPENKOV was born in Prilep in 1829. He belongs to the first generation of collectors of Macedonian folklore including the Miladinov brothers, Kuzman Sapkarev, Partenja Zografski, Jordan Hadi Konstantinov - Dinot, Gorgi Pulevski and Stefan Verkovik.
His family was large and quiet poor. His childhood years, particularly his schooldays, are described in some detail in his "Autobiography" which was published in full according to his own manuscript in the journal "Makedonski Jazik" (The Macedonian Language) in 1958. It was edited by Prof. K. Penusliski. From this autobiography we learn that the young Marko was a pupil of Hadi Pop Konstantin Dinkov, a well-known culture worker if the last century, for a year. After this he had to break off his schooling and learn a craft because his family was so poor.
Cepenkov was apprenticed to a Prilep tailor. However, in May 1846, he had the opportunity of continuing his schooling when his father went to work in Struga and took the boy with him. In Struga he became a pupil at the school under Naum Hadov.
His father, a most communicative person, sent him to live with his brother Ilco who was a grocer in Krusevo. Marko remained there, working as a journeyman, until his father came to Krusevo to take him to Bitola where he had found work. Marko gives 1852 as the year of his arrival in Bitola. Once again he did not stay long. Later he went to work for the well known Prilep tailor Timion, and a good friend of Dimitrija Miladinov. After an apprenticeship lasting some years Marko became an independent tailor.
Cepenkov began collecting folklore during the period 1856-57 when Dimitrij Miladinov was a teacher in Prilep and a direct influence on him. He also received encouragement to enter this field from Kuzman Sapkarev who, right at the beginning, handed over to him a certain part of his own collection of folk-stories. When Marko saw Sapkarev's published collection of his desire to publish his own folklore collection increased even further.
The ageing Marko was to suffer great misfortune: his sight failed. A traffic accident left him crippled in one leg. Injured and more or less blind Cepenkov was no longer in a position to earn his bread himself so he made a vigorous effort to get a pension from the National Parliament. We have records of this in the form of letters which he sent to Dr. Ivan Sismanov. Living extremely poorly Cepenkov still continued to write: from 1896-1911 he published ten of his original poems and four acts of his play, "Black Duke", thus confirming the literary and creative abilities already quite noticeable in the folklore material he wrote down thereby raising the artistic form to a new level.
Alone and in extreme poverty Marko Cepenkov died as a emigrant in Sophia on 29th December, 1920, in his ninetieth year.

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