Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Yevgeny Lvovich Shvarts was born on October 21, 1896, in the city of Kazan on the Volga River. His father, Lev Borisovich Shvarts, was from a Jewish family and worked as a provincial doctor. He was one of the many liberals of Anton Chekhov’s generation who dedicated themselves to the gradual reform of Russian society through their work as educated professionals (doctors, teachers, and so on) within the provincial government. Shvarts’s mother, Maria Fyodorovna, came from a Russian Orthodox family, was well educated generally, and was particularly interested in theater. The family moved several times in Shvarts’s youth—from Kazan to Dmitrov near Moscow, then back to Kazan, and, at the outbreak of World War I, to Maikop in the northern Caucasus and to Rostov-on-the-Don. Shvarts began the study of law at Moscow University during the first year of the war but then left the university in 1915 and returned to Rostov. In 1917, he joined an amateur avant-garde theater in Rostov called the Theater Workshop, where he became a character actor, specializing in comic roles. His first marriage was to one of the actresses from the Theater Workshop, Gaiane Khaladzieva.
When the Russian Revolution and Civil War were over in 1921, Shvarts moved to Petrograd (rechristened Leningrad in 1924) with other members of Rostov’s Theater Workshop. The attempt to establish their experimental workshop as a professional theater failed after its second season, but the move to Petrograd had put Shvarts in touch with the leading members of the literary intelligentsia there. He soon became personal secretary to Kornei Chukovsky; he was an active member of the writers’ club known as The Crazy Ship; and in 1925, he became an editor and writer for two children’s magazines, Hedgehog and Siskin....
(The entire section is 738 words.)
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