|Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
was well educated in the classics and graduated as a doctor in 1884. After his father, a grocer, went bankrupt, Chekhov provided financial support for his large family by writing popular comic sketches for humorous journals. From 1888 his work became more serious--though with an underlying humor--and in the 16 years before his death he published more than 50 stories in leading literary journals. But his reputation as a major Russian writer rests on his plays: The Seagull (1896), Uncle Vanya (1900), The Three Sisters (1901), and The Cherry Orchard (1904). Chekhov valued political and artistic freedom highly. A religious skeptic, he was drawn to an ascetic lifestyle. He died in Germany in 1904 from tuberculosis that had make him an invalid for many years.
|Olga Leonardovna Knipper
was the daughter of an engineer of German descent. She was educated in music, drawing, and foreign languages. After the death of her father left the family in dept, she went to drama school, later joining the Moscow Art Theater's original productions of Chekhov's plays, to great acclaim. In 1901 she married Chekhov. They were often separated during their marriage, and letters played an important part in their relationship; touchingly Olga continued to write Anton after his death in 1904. She also continued her brilliant acting career, touring Europe from 1919 to 1922, and the United States from 1923 to 1924. In 1943 she performed in the Moscow Art Theater's 300th performance of The Cherry Orchard. Olga died at age 89.