Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in the small seaport of Taganrog, Ukraine on January 29th in the year 1860. Today he is remembered as a playwright and one of the masters of the modern short story. He was the son of a grocer and the grandson of a serf who had bought his freedom, that and that his sons, 19 years earlier. Chekhov spent his early years under the shadow of his father's religious fanaticism while working long hours in his store.
Chekhov attended a school for Greek boys in his hometown from 1867-1868 and later he attended the local grammar school from 1868-1876 when his father went bankrupt and moved the family to Moscow. Chekhov, only 16 at the time, decided to remain in his hometown and supported himself by tutoring as he continued his schooling for 3 more years.
After he finished grammar school Chekhov enrolled in the Moscow University Medical School, where he would eventually become a doctor. Chekhov's medical and science experience is evident in much of his work as evidenced by the apathy many of his characters show towards tragic events.
While attending medical school Chekhov began to publish comic short stories and used the money to support himself and his family and by 1886 he had gained wide fame as a writer. Chekhov's works were published in various St. Petersburg papers, including Peterburskaia gazeta from 1885, and Novoe vremia from 1886. Chekhov also published 2 full-length novels during this time, one of which, "The Shooting Party," was translated into English in 1926.
Chekhov graduated from medical school in 1884 and he practiced medicine until 1892. While practicing medicine in 1886 he became a regular contributor to St. Petersburg daily Novoe vremya and it was during this time that he developed his style of the dispassionate, non-judgmental author. The lack of critical social commentary in Chekhov's works netted him some detractors, but it gained him the praise of such authors as Leo Tolstoy and Nikolai Leskov.
Chekhov was awarded the Pushkin Prize in 1888. The next year he was elected a member of the Society of Lovers of Russian Literature. However after the failure of his play The Wood Demon (1889) he withdrew from literature for a while. Instead he turned back to medicine and science in his trip to the penal colony of Sakhalin, north of Siberia. While there he surveyed 10,000 convicts sentenced to life on the island as part of his doctoral research. After finished on the island he traveled all over, including to such places as South East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and the Middle East.
In 1892 Chekhov bought an estate in the country village of Melikhove and became a full time writer. It was during this time that he published some of his most memorable stories including 'Neighbors' (1892), 'Ward Number Six' (1892), 'The Black Monk' (1894), 'The Murder' (1895), and 'Ariadne' (1895). In 1897 he fell ill with tuberculosis moved to Yalta, while there he wrote his famous stories 'The Man in a Shell,' 'Gooseberries,' 'About Love,' 'Lady with the Dog,' and 'In the Ravine.'
In 1901 Chekhov finally married to an actress, Olga Knipper, who had performed in his plays. But their bliss would be short lived, Chekhov died on July 15, 1904, in Badenweiler, Germany. He is buried in the cemetery of the Novodeviche Monastery in Moscow.
Though a celebrated figure by the Russian literary public at the time of his death, Chekhov remained rather unknown internationally until the years after World War I, when his works were translated into English. As a writer Chekhov was extremely fast, often producing a short story in an hour or less, overall during his career he authored several hundred stories. He didn't have as much success with his plays - the early ones were failures and it wasn't until The Seagull was revised in 1898 by Stanislavsky at the Moscow Art Theatre that he gained popularity as a playwright.
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