Maxim Gorky was born Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov on March 28, 1868, in a central Russian town, Nizhniy-Novgorod, into a small-merchant family. The family became impoverished in his childhood, and when Gorky was three, his father died and his mother remarried. After she died, he went to live with his grandparents but left home at fifteen, looking for work. He wandered through Russia for several years. At one time, he attempted suicide because of his hard life. Then, he met one of the leading Russian writers, Vladimir Korolenko, and his life was changed forever, as he discovered an ability and urge to write. He published his first story, “Makar Chudra,” in 1892, under the pseudonym of Maxim Gorky (“Maxim the Bitter”), a name that he kept throughout his career. He continued to write at a steady pace for the rest of his life.
He was arrested as a political activist in 1898, an event that foreshadowed a lifetime of revolutionary activity. The publication in 1899 of his first novel, Foma Gordeyev, established him as a leading younger writer and brought him the friendship of Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, and other well-known writers. He was arrested again but released at Tolstoy’s intervention. He fled to Finland, visited the United States in 1906, and settled on the Italian island of Capri, where he met Vladimir Ilich Lenin and other Russian luminaries, who flocked to him as on a pilgrimage. He returned to Russian in 1913, continued the...
(The entire section is 443 words.)