When Ivana Mažuranić was eight years old, her family settled in Zagreb, at 4 Markova Street (today's Mletačka Street). Few records of Ivana's childhood have been preserved, although the girlhood diary she started writing at the age of fourteen is a valuable source of information about her adolescent years. The diary, which Ivana kept from 1888 to 1891 (ages 14–17) was published in 2010 by Mala Zvona, under the title Good Morning, World! (Dobro jutro, svijete!, edited by Sanja Lovrenčić).
As a historical document, the diary provides an interesting account of middle-class girlhood in late nineteenth-century Zagreb. At that time, the social life of young girls mostly revolved around mutual house calls and afternoon meetings with friends, which often included playing instruments, singing, playing games or even – during the Carnival – wearing masks. Other social activities included private (in the houses of middle-class families) or public dances, as well as promenades around town, but only under the watchful eyes of a female chaperone – one's mother or some other married woman, often in the company of other young men and women. The diary also mentions skating as a popular afternoon pastime and evening concerts. Other forms of entertainment included music, going to the theatre and meeting members of the “Coronelli group” – young people who attended the famous Coronelli dancing school. Founded at the end of the eighteenth century in Zagreb, the Coronelli School was a popular place where generations of young men and women from middle- and upper-classes took their first dance steps.
Ivana's diary entries bear witness to her love of dancing, as well as the fact that she was a good dancer (this is something she herself admits in letters to various family members, even those she wrote after she was married) and saw herself as being much more mature and intelligent than girls her own age – in fact, she often scorned other girls she came into contact with for their immaturity and lack of interest in any kind of intelligent pastime (I went to see Olga; she was staring at me, so I started talking. Then I noticed her staring and began staring myself. Now both of us are staring at each other. What is the use of a third party here – except to sit and stare as well. I honestly doubt that any girl could be different than this; pg. 16). From time to time, Ivana writes about her longing for the summer house in Hališće. She also mentions how dissatisfied she is with herself, particularly with her lack of independence; she makes note of her mood swings and typical adolescent feelings of immaturity and lack of purpose. The diary also bears witness to romantic sentiments which she records from time to time; interestingly enough, she makes note of her decision to marry a Croat (patriotic feelings in general are an important topic in the diary). Ivana also writes about her first literary attempts and mentions a notebook full of poems that she was not too happy with, and which she lost. The diary also includes some of these literary attempts: short stories, poems, reflections on books. Unfortunately, there is not much mention of the books she read (she mentions the Croatian writer Ksaver Šandor Gjalski by name). The many prayers, and reflections on her own soul-searching, God and Christianity, found on the pages of her diary, bear witness to Ivana's strong religious feelings – something that would also permeate her literary output in the years to come. As we know from different types of normative discourse on the upbringing of adolescent girls produced at that time, young girls were urged to keep no secrets from their mothers – Ivana mentions this imperative in her diary, but goes on to admit that she doesn't always follow it, as she doesn't necessarily disclose her romantic feelings to her mother.
One of the most significant events in this period of Ivana's life was the death of her grandfather Ivan Mažuranić in 1890. Ivana, at that time a fifteen-year old girl, later wrote about her memories of that night: following her parents through the empty streets of Zagreb's Upper Town (from Markova Street, where they lived, to the house of Ivan Mažuranić in Jurjevska Street), entering her grandfather's house and witnessing his final moments unobserved.
On August 15, 1891, Ivana Mažuranić was engaged to Dr. Vatroslav Brlić (the couple was married eight months later). In her girlhood diary, Ivana records her first, uncertain impressions of meeting and becoming engaged to Dr. Brlić (twelve years her senior), who was recommended to the family as an eligible young man by his aunt Jagoda Brlić. Some information about her brief engagement can be found in the letters she wrote to her fiancé who lived in Brod na Savi.
Dubravka Zima, 2013