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Biography of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
By Christi White and Dan Piparo


Anton Chekhov was born the son of a grocer and grandson of a serf in Taganrog in 1860. After his father fled Taganrog in 1875 because of bankruptcy, Chekhov's family was kicked out of their house by a former lodger. In 1879 Chekhov rejoined his family, now in Moscow with his father, and enrolled at the University to study medicine. He began practicing medicine in 1884 - the start of a sporadic second career which was to bring him much hard work but little income. Chekhov's first career was that of a writer of humorous material and he began contributing to minor magazines under the pen name of Antosha Chekhonte in 1880. By 1882, he was a regular contributer the other St. Petersburg humorous journal Oskolki with his short stories and sketches, and a column on Moscow life.

By 1887, Chekhov was a literary success in St. Petersburg. His first play, Ivanov, was commissioned from a producer who wanted a light entertainment in the Chekhonte style. Produced in Moscow, it was received with a mixture of "clapping and hissing" (Chekhov 101). In 1888, Chekhov began publishing his stories in the "thick journals" and survived his career in comic journalism to emerge as a serious and respectable writer (Chekhov 101). At the same time, he began writing four one-act farces for the theatre.

Checkhov's second play, The Wood Demon (later used as raw material for Uncle Vanya) opened in 1889, but survived for only three performances. The following year, Chekhov made an appalling journey across Siberia to visit and report on the penal colony on the island of Sakhalin where he interviewed the entire population of prisoners and exiles at the rate of 160 a day.

As a doctor, Chekhov tried desperately to prevent recurrence of the 1891 famine among the peasants in the back country of Nizhny Novgorod and Voronyesh provinces. He became an energetic and enlightened landowner, cultivating the soil and doctoring the peasants and spent three months organizing the district against an expected colera epidemic.

The Seagull opened in 1886 and survived only five performances after a disastrous first night. Chekhov vowed never to put on another play, even if he "lived another seven hundred years" (Chekhov 101). The following year, he was forced to recognize that he was suffering from advanced consumption, having suffered a violen lung hemorrhage. Also plagued by piles, gastritis, migraine, dizzy spells, and palpitations of the heart, he decided to winter in Nice.

In 1989, Chekhov moved to Yalta, and in that same year, The Seagull was revived by Stanilsavsky and became an immediate success. In 1899, Uncle Vanya was also produced successfully by the Moscow Arts Theatre. Three Sisters was produced in 1901 to poor reviews, however. In 1904, Chekhov's last play, The Cherry Orchard, was produced in January. In 1904, after two heart attacks, Chekhov died in a hotel bedroom in the German spa of Badenweiler.

The Life of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
By Christi White and Phil Stanwick

  1. Birth
    A) Born on January 29, 1860
    B) Born in Badenweiler, Germany

  2. Youth
    A) His school was Gimnaziya
    B) Family
    1. They moved away which caused him to support himself
    2. They moved back when he graduated.
    C) Went on to become a doctor
    D) Early writing started in 1888

  3. Writing
    A) Fifty stories from 1888-1904
    B) Authored many short stories and plays also

  4. Death
    A) Tuberculosis, July 15, 1904
    B) Works published forty years late

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Created by: Dan Piparo, Kim Guevara, Christi White, Phil Stanwick, Terra Bredeson
Copyright 1997 Danworld, Inc. All rights reserved.
Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form.