Marcelina Kulikowska was a poet, writer, teacher and education activist. Her works were strongly associated with the decadent movement that was characteristic of the modernist period of Young Poland. These works – dark and full of tension – reflected the dramatic events of her life; a life which ended with a suicide. Yet Kulikowska was also a committed education activist, working with organizations such as the Folk University and the Association of Folk Schools. Most importantly, however, she was at the centre of a scandal which took place in her school between 1903 and 1908, following her open declaration of irreligiousness. The development of this scandal sheds an interesting light on the relationships of power in secondary schools at the time. Owing to her personal connections and views as well as uncompromising actions in defense of the values she believed in, Kulikowska became one of the main figures of the radical intellectual circles in Cracow. Kulikowska was also an example of a 19th-century emancipation activist; whilst she did not formally belong to the women’s movement of the time (and did not agree with some of the movement’s principles), she embraced the emancipation ideals in her everyday actions.