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 Leonid Andreyev

Born:   21 August [O.S. 9 August] 1871
Deceased:   September 12, 1919

Writer, playwright, founder of expressionism.


Leonid Andreyev was born on August 21, 1871 into a middle-class family in the city of Oryol. As a child yet he showed great interest in literature. He got educated in a classical grammar school of his hometown, where he studied from 1882 to 1891. It was followed by entering the St. Petersburg University, where Leonid studied at the law department.

His family was quite well-to-do until the death of his father. Afterwards Leonid endured a period of financial hardships: he was short of money, sometimes even to the brink of starving. At that time Leonid Andreyev wrote his first short stories, but they were not taken for publication. He quit university, and later transferred to the Moscow University to major in law as well. In order to provide for the family he had to work hard and change a few job positions.

After graduating the University in 1897 he went in for legal profession. Around the same time Leonid Andreyev started his journalistic writing for The Moscow Messenger magazine. In 1898 he had his short story first published in a newspaper – it was Bargamot and Garaska, which attracted attention of Maxim Gorky, who advised Leonid Andreyev to focus on his literary work. Thus, the beginning writer soon stopped his law practice and managed to write his first collection of short stories and short novels that was published in 1901 and gained him great popularity, making him a literary celebrity. 

From that time till 1905 Leonid Andreyev published a number of short stories on various subjects, among them the way of life in Russian provinces, court cases and prison incidents, etc. Keen on psychology, he conveyed a range of profound insights into human nature, some of his characters destined to become classic characters of Russian literature.
In the course of the first Russian revolution Leonid Andreyev took an active part in social life, standing up for democracy. The atmosphere of that time is very well reflected in his stories, including The Red Laugh (1904), Governor (1905) and The Seven Who Were Hanged (1908). The novelist was put to prison, but soon released on bail. 
In November 1905 he left Russia and moved to Germany first, and then to Italy, and Finland. Starting from 1905 he also authored lots of plays, namely The Life of Man (1906), Tsar Hunger (1907), Black Masks (1908), Anathema (1909), The Days of Our Life (1909), and many others. The Life of Man was staged by Constantin Stanislavski at the Moscow Art Theatre and Vsevolod Meyerhold in Saint Petersburg. 
World War I echoed in his plays The Sorrows of Belgium, The Life of Man (1917), The Rape of the Sabine Women (1922), He Who Gets Slapped (1922), and Anathema (1923). Though he initially supported February Revolution in Russia he warned against the Bolsheviks. When in Finland, he wrote manifestos to the world against the Bolsheviks’ seizing power. An idealistic rebel, the writer spent the last years of his life in poverty and prematurely died of heart failure on September 12, 1919.
His son Daniil Andreyev is a remarkable mystic poet, the author of the world famous Roza Mira, aka The Rose of the World. The Metaphilosophy of History. 

Tags: Leonid Andreyev Russian Literature    

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