Herman Sergo (1. X 1911 – 28. IX 1989) was a prose-writer who described the life of seafarers and coastal dwellers.
Sergo was born in the village of Jausa in Käina parish on Hiiumaa, the son of a seaman. He acquired is primary education on Hiiumaa. During his school holidays he worked as a cabin-boy, and later, until 1932 served as a sailor on Finnish and Swedish long-distance vessels. From 1933 to 1941 he studied at Tallinn maritime college, where he graduated with the rank of sea-captain. He worked as a first mate and captain. In 1940 Soviet warships seized a merchant ship captained by Sergo on its way from Tallinn to Stockholm. For this reason Sergo remained in Estonia when it was annexed by the Soviet Union. During the Second World War he took part in the evacuation of the Red Army fleet; later he was a military interpreter on the Karelian front. Sergo worked in maritime positions until 1955, and thereafter was a professional writer. He lived in Tallinn and Viljandi. From 1961 he was a member of the Writers’ Union.
Sergo made his debut with humorous stories in the seamen’s journal Merendus ja Laevandus in 1940. In the nineteen-fifties he won prizes in the journal Looming’s short story competitions. He has said that since he could no longer go to sea while living in the Soviet Union, he started to live out his seaman’s profession by writing. In addition to the life of seamen, the main theme of his works was the Hiiumaa of olden times. Autobiographical and historical material predominates in Sergo’s novels and short story collections. His narrative style is fluent and gripping.
Regarded as Sergo’s major work is the historical trilogy of novels Näkimadalad ('Mermaid Shallows', 1984) about the life of the Swedes of Reigi on Hiiumaa in the 18th century. The novel Rändröövel ('The Pirate', 1988) follows some of the narrative of this trilogy. A 4-part mini-series of Näkimadalad was made by Estonian Television in 1978-1988 (directed by Olav Neuland).
L. P. (Translated by C. M.)
Books in Estonian
Põgenike laev. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1966. 328 lk.
Vihavald. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1970. 436 lk.
Kodusadam. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982. 128 lk.
Näkimadalad. 1. raamat. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1984. 256 lk.
Näkimadalad. 2. raamat. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1984. 240 lk.
Näkimadalad. 3. raamat. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1984. 303 lk.
Randröövel. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1988. 377 lk.
Rukkirahu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1990. 123 lk.
Viis aastat võõra nime all. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1992. 156 lk.
Meri kutsub. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1960. 596 lk.
Ahvatlev leetseljak. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1962. 64 lk.
"Kajakalaid". Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1963. 224 lk.
Mehed mere taustal. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1963. 144 lk.
Kauge tule kuma. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1975. 142 lk.
Pinnavirvendus ja põhjalained: jutustusi ja olukirjeldusi. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1962. 248 lk.
Lootsitoa jutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1967. 244 lk.
Kui ma alles noor veel olin: jutustused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1980. 245 lk.