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Anton Chekhov's Biography

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Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in Taganrog, Russia on 29 January 1860.

In 1876, Chekhov's father Pavel Yegorovitch was declared bankrupt and left for Moscow with the older children. Initially his mother Yevgeniya Yakovlevna and the younger children remained in Taganrog, but soon after she left Anton in Taganrog by himself to finish school.

When he too went to Moscow in 1879, Anton Chekhov pursued a career in writing and medicine.

Whilst at medical school Chekhov wrote light pieces for various magazines to earn money and help support his mother.

Chekhov qualified from medical school in 1884.

Chekhov's first play Ivanov was produced in 1887.

In 1888 Chekhov wrote in a letter to Suvorin:

"Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress. When I get tired of one I spend the night with the other."

In 1895, Chekhov wrote The Seagull, a play that did not follow the stage conventions of the time, and demonstrated Chekhov's originality.

Initially it did not get a good reception, like another of his famous plays The Three Sisters which premiered on January 21, 1901.

The year before, Chekhov, along with Vladimir Korolenko, had resigned from the Academy of Sciences in protest over the expulsion of Maxim Gorky, at the urging of Czar Nicolas II, who had been upset at Gorky's appointment.

In 1901, Chekhov married the actress Olga Leonardovna Knipper.

Chekhov finished The Cherry Orchard, in October 1902, and the play was produced by Stanislavsky. In spite of Chekhov's misgivings over Stanislavsky's interpretation of the piece, The Cherry Orchard was a success.

Anton Chekhov died of tuberculosis on July 15, 1904, in Badenweiler, Germany, but he was buried in Moscow. Chekhov's body had been sent back to Russia in a refrigerator car in a box marked "oysters". By coincidence Oysters was a story of his written back in 1884.

Andreas Teuber has a comprehensive biography of Anton Chekov, which characterises the work of Chekhov:

" .. the themes that predominate in Chekhov's fiction: the obsequiousness and petty tyranny of government officials; the sufferings of the poor as well as their coarseness and vulgarity; the vagaries and unpredictability of feeling; the ironical misunderstandings, disillusionments, and cross- purposes that make up the human comedy in general."

This is mirrored by Maxim Gorky, who wrote:

"No one understood as clearly as Anton Chekhov the tragic element in life's trivialities ..."

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