Anton Chekhov Additional Biography

Biography

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in the provincial town of Taganrog, Russia, on January 29, 1860. The grandson of a serf, Chekhov was the third of seven children. Chekhov said of his early days, “There was no childhood in my childhood,” largely because of his father, Pavel, who frequently forced Chekhov to tend the family’s unheated food and hardware store until late at night. Chekhov’s father beat his children and taught them how to cheat customers, yet he was in his own eyes a religious man. He forced his children into a religious choir that rehearsed frequently and sang at various churches. Chekhov disliked these duties. It is not surprising that in later life he was not a religious man, that he spent his life trying to “burn the slave” out of himself and become a man of culture, and that he became convinced that work was useless unless it improved humankind’s lot.

Chekhov’s home life was disrupted in 1876 when his father’s business went into bankruptcy and his father fled to Moscow to escape debtors’ prison. His mother sold the house, took the younger children, and joined her husband. Chekhov stayed behind to finish his schooling and became, at sixteen, the main support of the family, providing income by tutoring. He finished school in 1879, rejoined his family, and tried to provide material and moral support, lecturing at times on the need to avoid lies, affirm human worth, and be fair, all values that would be of great importance in his later work.

In Moscow, Chekhov studied medicine and supported the family by writing stories in humorous magazines under the name Antosha Chekhonte. His first story was published in 1880 in the magazine Strekoza (dragonfly), and in 1881, he finished his first full-length play, Platonov, though it was not performed or published in his lifetime. In October of 1882, he met Nicolai Leikin, the owner of the weekly magazine Oskolki (fragments); they became friends, and soon scarcely a week went by without a Chekhov story appearing in the magazine. These early ventures saw him through medical school, and in 1884, Chekhov finished his medical studies and took up practice. By December 10 of that year, however, Chekhov became ill, coughing up blood, his first attack of tuberculosis, the disease that would kill him twenty years later. For the rest of his life, no year would go by without similar attacks.

Chekhov recovered rapidly and managed to ignore the implications of his symptoms, resuming his normal life. In December, 1885, he accompanied Leikin to St. Petersburg, the literary center of Russia at the time, meeting Aleksei Suvorin, owner of the powerful daily newspaper Novoye vremya (new times), and Dimitry Grigorovich, a noted novelist. After his return to Moscow, he received a letter from Grigorovich urging him to respect his talent and write seriously; Chekhov responded that Grigorovich’s...

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Biography

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, the third of six Chekhov children, was born on January 29, 1860, in Taganrog, a provincial city in southern Russia. His father, Pavel Egorovich Chekhov, son of a serf, ran a meager grocery store, which young Anton often tended in his neglectful father’s absence. A religious fanatic and stern disciplinarian, Pavel gave his children frequent beatings and forced them to spend long hours in various devotional activities. For Anton, who did not share his father’s zeal, it was a depressing, gloomy childhood.

Although the family was poor and Pavel’s marginal business was slowly failing, Anton was able to get some schooling, first at a Greek parochial school, then at the boys’ gymnasium, or high school. In 1875, after a bout with acute peritonitis, young Chekhov decided to become a physician. His future brightened when, in 1876, his father, trying to evade his creditors, secretly moved the family to Moscow, leaving Anton to finish school.

In 1879, Anton moved to Moscow, entered the medical school of the University of Moscow, and almost immediately began publishing stories in various magazines and newspapers. A very prolific apprentice, by 1884, when he was graduated from medical school, he had published his first collection of short fiction. By 1886, Chekhov had begun his long association and friendship with A. S. Suvorin, the owner of an influential conservative newspaper to which Chekhov contributed dozens of pieces....

(The entire section is 510 words.)

Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111201530-Chekhov.jpg Anton Chekhov Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (CHEH-kawf) was born on January 29, 1860, into a family of tradesmen in the southern Russian port town of Taganrog, a stiflingly provincial place where he spent his first nineteen years. Chekhov despised Taganrog and used the adjective “Taganrogish” for behavior that he regarded as dull, boorish, squalid, or vulgar. Chekhov’s father, Pavel Egorovich, was a despotic grocer who terrorized his wife, five sons, and one daughter, overworked them, eventually went bankrupt, and had to flee town to escape his creditors. Chekhov’s mother was the soul of kindness, but she was too timid and deferential to protect her children against an abusive father who beat his offspring, ordered them to attend church services daily, and forbade them the luxury of play. “We felt like little convicts at hard labor,” Chekhov wrote in an 1892 letter about his childhood—though he did manage to fish and swim and to become a great practical joker. It is nonetheless crucial to note that he was deprived of an adequate portion of familial love in his formative years. That may account for the central flaw in Chekhov’s character: his marked tendency to avoid emotional (and with women, physical) intimacy with family, friends, and lovers.

Chekhov’s Taganrog schooling coincided with tremendous socioeconomic revolutionary ferment incited by the writings of Mikhail Bakunin, Aleksandr Herzen, and others, culminating in the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881. Yet he was sheltered from these winds of modernity and showed no particular inclination, in either his youth or his manhood, to espouse or oppose radical causes. He did show early signs of the poor health that would cost him his life at the age of forty-four: peritonitis, malaria, hemorrhoids, migraines, and other ailments. His symptoms may well have indicated an early tubercular infection, with the bacillus aided in its assault on Chekhov’s body by his hard boyhood regimen of schooling, churchgoing, and shop-minding.

In July, 1876, the elder Chekhovs and all the children but Anton fled Taganrog for Moscow, leaving him to finish grammar school and giving him a theme—dispossession—that he was to feature in both Tri sestry (pr., pb. 1901, revised pb. 1904; The Three Sisters, 1920) and Vishnyovy sad (pr., pb. 1904; The Cherry Orchard, 1908). For three years, the lad supported himself alone in his hometown, burdened with economic worries but relieved of his tyrannical father. Astonishingly, Chekhov not only took care of his own needs but also was able to send small sums to his family. He seems to have been born with a maturity and a fastidious sense of order and responsibility that never deserted him.

In August, 1879, Chekhov joined his family in Moscow and lived there for the next twenty years. He began a demanding five-year grind...

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Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

“You ask me what life is?” Anton Chekhov once wrote his wife. “It is like asking what a carrot is. A carrot is a carrot, that’s all we know.” Chekhov records facts: people, places, things, words, actions. Held in his artist’s vision, they catch the comic, pathetic, sometimes frightening, other times loving but always vulnerable and lonely human pose between birth and death. Chekhov is the subtlest, quietest, most indirect of storytellers and dramatists, capable of examining his characters’ darkest despair with calm sympathy, gentle irony, and restrained affection. As an author, he seeks to be an impartial witness to the human condition, careful not to indulge in moral fervor, messianic dogma, or anything that smacks of theatricality. A hater of lies and delusions, he has no remedy for the disease of modern life and refuses to arouse false hopes about the future of humankind.

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Anton Chekhov (CHEHK-awf)—also written Chekov, Tchehov, and Tchekhov—was Russia’s foremost playwright and one of the great masters of the short story. He was the third child of Pravel Yegorovitch Chekhov, a “merchant in the third guild”—that is, the proprietor of a small grocery shop—in Taganrog, where the future writer was born in 1860. When, after an unhappy childhood, he entered Moscow University to study medicine, he assumed the burden and responsibility of supporting the family, which he undertook to do by writing humorous sketches and stories for periodicals. The first of these tales was published in 1880, and in the next seven years he wrote as many as six hundred stories. On his graduation in 1884, with health...

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Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born on January 29, 1860, in Taganrog, a Russian town on the Sea of Azov. His father owned a small grocery store,...

(The entire section is 416 words.)

Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Born on January 29, 1860, in Taganrog, Russia, Chekhov, the third of six children, was the grandson of a serf who bought his freedom. His...

(The entire section is 451 words.)

Biography

(Drama for Students)

Anton Chekhov was born on January 17, 1860, in Taganrog, a dreary Russian seaport village on the Black Sea. His grandfather was an...

(The entire section is 708 words.)

Biography

(Drama for Students)

Although Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was trained as a physician and practiced as one, he came to dominate not just one field of literature, but...

(The entire section is 337 words.)

Biography

(Drama for Students)

Born on January 29, 1860, in the port village of Taganrog in the Ukraine Anton Chekhov was the third son...

(The entire section is 458 words.)

Biography

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born on January 17,1860, in Taganrog, a city in southern Russia. He was one of six children born to Evgeniya and...

(The entire section is 366 words.)

Biography

(Drama for Students)

Anton Chekhov was born in Taganrog, Russia, on January 16, 1860. His grandfather had been a serf who had been able to earn enough to buy his...

(The entire section is 391 words.)

Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born on January 16, 1860, in Taganrog, Russia, the third of six children. Chekhov’s father, a grocer, was...

(The entire section is 400 words.)