He was born on April 30/May 12, 1815 in the town of Balta, Podolsk Governorate (gubernya), in the family of a clerk. His father was Ukrainian and his mother was Polish Catholic and mostly Polish was spoken in the family. Grigorovich studied at the monastery school of the Basilian Order in Uman. At the age of 15, he enrolled at the Philological Department of the Faculty of Philosophy at Kharkiv University. After graduating in 1834, he studied philosophy and classical philology at the University of Derpt. In 1839, he started lecturing at the newly opened Department of Slavic Studies at Kazan University. In 1841, he published his first scientific study, Краткое обозрение славянских литератур [A Brief Review of Slavic Literatures]. In 1843, he received his master’s degree in Slavic philology for his work Опыт изложения литературы словян в ее главнейших эпохах [An attempt to present the literature of the Slavs in its most important eras].
To collect material for his studies, in 1844 Victor Grigorovich began a tour of the Slavic lands in the European part of the Ottoman Empire, in the Balkans and in Central Europe along the route Odessa – Constantinople – Thessalonica – Mt Athos – Ohrid – Sofia – Shipka – Gabrovo – Tarnovo, etc. On planning his trip, he drew on the experience of P. I. Keper and Y. I. Venelin, and consulted with M. P. Pogodin and O. M. Bodyansky. His main purpose was to get acquainted with the Slavic written monuments kept in the monastery libraries and to get to know the history of the South Slavs. Grigorovich was the first scientist who had the opportunity to explore Bulgarian inland. His trip continued until 1847. He discovered and took to the Russian Empire about 60 Slavic manuscripts, including the Rila Glagolitic folia, Evangelium Achridanum, Codex Marianus, the Hludov Psalter, Epistles of Apostles of Slepce, Dušan’s Code, and the Chronicle of Mihail Moxa. Grigorovich presented the results of his research in his publications Изыскания о славянских апостолах, произведенныя в странах Европейской Турции [Requirements on the Slavic Apostles, Made in the Countries of European Turkey] (1847) and Очерк путешествия по Европейской Турции [An Essay on Travelling in European Turkey] (1848). The essay was a summary of the collected works that the Russian scientists wanted to get acquainted with as soon as possible, and did not fully present the results of Grigorovich’s effort. The author was not satisfied with the book and was preparing a second supplementary edition, but was unable to realize it. His publication contained not only information about the manuscripts that he has found, but also descriptions of a number of Bulgarian towns, as well as detailed information about the past, customs and folklore of Christians in the Ottoman Empire.
In 1848, V. Grigorovich was appointed as a lecturer at Moscow University to replace Osip Bodyansky, but a year later he returned to Kazan, where he taught until 1864. In 1854–1856 he lectured at the Kazan Theological Academy. In 1851 he was elected Corresponding Member of the Department of Russian Language and Literature of St Petersburg Academy of Sciences.
Grigorovich was interested in the history of Byzantium and the Slavic peoples. In 1859, he published his study О Сербии в её отношении к соседним державам в XIV–XV вв. [About Serbia in her relations with the neighbouring countries in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries], where he examined the history of the Serbs and the Balkan peoples in the course of the Ottoman conquest. In the appendices, Grigorovich published the chronicle of Mihail Moxa from 1620 (Russian State Library, ф. 87, No.64), the Hilandar Chronicle of the 15th century, Bulgarian in terms of origin (Scientific library in Odessa, No. 10/36) with readings in Gabarevsky Chronicle from the 16th century (Russian State Library, No. 10/36), other manuscripts, as well as several charters and letters.
In 1863, Kazan University awarded Viktor Grigorovich a doctoral degree in Slavic philology without him having defended a thesis. Not long after he left work. In 1865, the Richelieu Lyceum in Odessa was transformed into Novorossiysk University (present-day Odessa National University) and Grigorovich started as a professor there. He was the first dean of the Faculty of History and Philology. In 1876, he resigned and moved to Yelisavetgrad (Kropyvnytskiy, now in Ukraine), where he died suddenly on 19/31 December of the same year.
At the foundation of the University of Odessa, Viktor Grigorovich made a great contribution –he presented them scientific publications in the field of Slavic studies, old printed books, and most of the manuscripts he had collected during his tour of the Slavic lands. His donation is kept at the university library under the name Department of Slavic Philology of Professor V. I. Grigorovich, and in the 1930s was transferred to M. Gorky Odessa National Library. Another part of his manuscripts was submitted by his brothers to the Manuscript Department of the Rumyantsev Museum in 1877. Today, they are kept in F. 87 at the Russian State Library in Moscow. The Fund contains 71 manuscripts from the 11th–18th century, most of them of Bulgarian and Serbian origin. V. Grigorovich’s archive of 405 units – autobiographical, scientific and pedagogical materials – constitutes F. 86 of the same library. Some of the documents were submitted simultaneously with the manuscripts, while others were donated in 1889 by F. I. Uspensky.
Viktor Grigorovich rightly referred to himself as a ‘humble science-carrying porter’. He believed that when studying Byzantium and the Slavic peoples, one should pay attention not only to their language and literature, but also to their history. Grigorovich has authored more than 50 scientific publications.
He was the first Russian scientist to have the opportunity to travel to the Bulgarian lands. He was also the first Russian researcher to pay particular attention to Bulgarian medieval literature, and he was teaching Bulgarian before he travelled to Bulgarian lands. For the rest of his life he remained connected to Bulgaria. He maintained correspondence with educated Bulgarians such as Dimitar Miladinov, Lyuben Karavelov and Spiridon Palauzov. Grigorovich was one of the founders of Slavic philology in Russia and belonged to the first generation of Russian Slavicists, together with O. M. Bodyansky, I. I. Sreznevski and P. I. Prais. His travel for studying Slavic manuscripts and his research on Slavic language and literature marked an important stage in the development of palaeoslavistics.
- Опыт изложения литературы словен в ее главнейших эпохах. Казань, 1843.
- Изыскания о славянских апостолах, произведенные в странах Европейской Турции. Санкт Петербург, 1847.
- Очерк путешествия по Европейской Турции. Москва, 1848.
- Статьи, касающиеся древнеславянского языка. Казань, 1852.
- Описание четвероевангелия, писанного глаголицей. – Известия Академии Наук, II отд., II, 242, 1852.
- О Сербии в ее отношении к соседним державам в XIV–XV вв. 1859.
- Послание русского митрополита Иоанна II. – Ученые записки II отделения Академии наук, I, 1854.
- Древнеславянский памятник, дополняющий житие святых апостолов Кирилла и Мефодия. Казань, 1862.
- Как выражались отношения константинопольской церкви к окрестным северным народам в начале Х в. Одесса, 1866.
- Значение взаимности словянской в русском споре о старине и преобразованиях. Одесса, 1870.
- Из летописи науки славянской. – Записки Новороссийского университета, VI, 1871.
- Я. А. Коменский, славянский педагог-реалист XVIII в. Одесса, 1871.
- Записка об археологическом исследовании Днестровского побережья. Одесса, 1874.
- Об участии сербов в наших общественных отношениях. – Записки Новороссийского университета, XXI, 1876.
- В. И. Григорович и развитие славяноведения в России. Мматериалы «круглого стола» с международным участием, посвященного 200-летию со дня рождения ученого, Казань, 10 апреля 2015 г. Казань, 2015.
- Кирпичников А. И. В. И. Григорович и его значение в истории русской науки. – Исторический вестник, Т. 50, 1892, 755–763.
- Успенский, Ф. И. Воспоминания о В. И. Григоровича. Одесса, 1890.