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Biography of Maksim Gorky

Maxim Gorky, real name Alexey Maksimovich Peshkov, is a legendary figure in Soviet and Russian literature. In addition to Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin and Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy, he was nominated five times for the Nobel Prize and is regarded as one of the principal founders of national literary art. Gorky’s writings are now regarded as the best in Russian literature.

Adolescence and youth

The author was born in Nizhny Novgorod on March 16 or 28, 1868. Maxim Savvatyevich, his father, was a carpenter by trade and ran a shipping enterprise in his final years. Following the death of Varvara Vasilievna’s mother from consumption, his grandmother Akulina Ivanovna took on the role of the boy’s parents.

Alexey attended a parochial school. He had to leave her as he contracted smallpox. After that, he attended two classes at Kanavin’s Sloboda Elementary School before being expelled. Peshkov started working part-time at the age of eleven at the same period.

The young man traveled to Kazan at the age of sixteen with the intention of enrolling in the local university. He was not permitted to take the tests since he did not possess a certificate of completion of education. The man then started working at the port, writing his first novels and literary notes in his spare time.

Later, Peshkov found employment in a bakery frequented by members of Narodnaya Volya. From here, he read the writings of Russian revolutionaries and quickly joined a covert Marxist group.

The young man eventually made his way back to Nizhny Novgorod. He visited writer Vladimir Korolenko in his tiny native country, and he read his poem “The Song of the Old Oak” to him. The writer found grammatical and semantic mistakes in his young colleague’s work after carefully reviewing it.

Gorky visited the cities of the Caucasus and Crimea while wandering in his youth. He stated in his memoirs that he “went to travel and felt out of place among the intelligentsia.” The author attempted to emulate George Byron’s manner by continuing to write while on his travels.


“Makar Chudra,” the author’s first known story, was originally published in the newspaper “Caucasus” on September 12, 1892. It is noteworthy to include “Old Woman Izergil,” “Former People,” and the poetry “Song of the Falcon” as some of the most well-known pieces from that era.

“Song of the Petrel,” another poem, was turned into a textbook. Maxim Gorky spent a great deal of time reading children’s books. In addition to publishing the first children’s magazine in the Soviet Union, Northern Lights, he wrote several fairy tales, including “Sparrow” and “Samovar.” He also brought back to life the biography series “The Life of Remarkable People,” which had been published prior to the revolution.

The plays “At the Lower Depths” and “The Bourgeois,” in which the author demonstrated his skill as a dramatist and provided insight into his perception of society, are crucial to comprehending the writer’s body of work.

Away from home

The first Russian revolution broke out on January 9 (22), 1905, and Gorky backed the uprising of the laborers. He was therefore taken into custody and held captive in the Peter and Paul Fortress. The prisoner was freed a month later, but he left for safety reasons and immigrated to the US, where he wrote a collection of essays titled “In America.”

As Alexei Maksimovich’s tuberculosis worsened in the United States, he relocated to the island of Capri in Italy toward the end of 1906. The writer met Vladimir Lenin, a revolutionary he had met in London, and other artists and revolutionaries here. A snapshot of Gorky and Vladimir Ilyich playing chess around that era has survived.

The author’s 1902 political protest at the Sormovo plant served as the inspiration for her novel “Mother,” which she published in Europe. The plays “The Last” and “Vassa Zheleznova” by Gorky were published in France, Germany, and the United States.

Maxim Gorky completed the story “Childhood” in 1913 and made a stop in St. Petersburg on his way back to Russia. After two years, he started contributing to the Chronicle, which at the time also featured works by Alexander Blok, Sergei Yesenin, and Vladimir Mayakovsky.

The author emigrated to Germany in 1921 and spent a considerable amount of time there. His health was officially cited as the reason for his departure from the Soviet press, while other accounts suggest that he departed because of a falling out with the ruling party.

Subsequently, Gorky returned to Italy and established himself in Sorrento. By this point, he had finished both the novel “The Artamonov Case” and the personal novella “My Universities,” which described his life in Kazan.

After that, the writer started working on the epic poem “The Life of Klim Samgin.” “It will be a cumbersome thing and, it seems, not a novel, but a chronicle,” he wrote to journalist Konstantin Fedin. Gorky never finished the book, even though he worked on it till the end of his life.

In 1928, Alexey Maksimovich celebrated his 60th birthday and traveled to the USSR at Joseph Stalin’s invitation. When he went back to his native country a year later, he saw the camp on Solovki and spoke with the inmates. The author eventually made his way back to the Soviet Union in 1933.

In Moscow, a lavish banquet was arranged to celebrate Gorky’s arrival. The writer was given residence in Crimea, a dacha in the town of Gorki in the Moscow region, and the old home of banker and businessman Stepan Ryabushinsky in the city.

Individual existence

Alexei Maksimovich’s private life was turbulent. At age 28, he entered into his first—and thus far, only—marriage. At the publishing house Samara Newspaper, where the girl worked as a proofreader, the publicist met the woman who would become his future wife, Ekaterina Volzhina.

A son named Maxim joined the family a year after the wedding, and shortly after that a daughter named Ekaterina—named for her mother—was born. Zinovy Sverdlov, the writer’s godson, also nurtured him and subsequently adopted the last name Peshkov.

But Gorky’s affection faded fast. He started to feel overburdened by family life, and he and Volzhina’s marriage evolved into a parenting partnership in which they shared their home only for the benefit of their kids.

The sudden death of tiny daughter Katya served as the catalyst for the breakup of the family. Nevertheless, the writer and his spouse stayed in touch and were friends right up until the end of their lives.

Following his divorce from his spouse, Maxim Gorky met Maria Andreeva, a Moscow Art Theater actor, with the help of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. She ended up being his de facto wife for the following sixteen years.

She left behind a son named Andrei and a daughter named Ekaterina from her prior relationship. However, during the revolution, the artist started to focus more on party work and less on her family, which led to the breakdown of their partnership in 1919.

Gorky himself terminated it, announcing his departure for Maria Zakrevskaya-Budberg, a former baroness who worked as his secretary part-time. The author spent thirteen years living with this woman. Like the last marriage, this one was not registered.

The last woman Alexei Maksimovich chose turned out to be 24 years his junior, and everybody who knew her were aware of her extramarital escapades. Following her actual husband’s death, Maria promptly moved in with English science fiction writer Herbert Wells, who was one of her loves.

It’s possible that Gorky’s sweetheart, who was known for being an adventurer and working with the NKVD, was a double agent for British intelligence as well.


Gorky worked in newspapers and journals after making his final trip back to his own country. He also wrote volumes for the “History of Factories,” “Library of the Poet,” and “History of the Civil War” series and arranged and hosted the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers.

Alexey Maksimovich withered following the untimely pneumonia-related death of his kid. He got a nasty cold during his subsequent visit to the heir’s tomb. On June 18, 1936, Gorky became ill with pneumonia, which led to his death.

The Soviet writer’s body was incinerated, and the ashes were buried in Red Square’s Kremlin wall. However, the deceased’s brain was first removed and given to a research facility for additional examination.

Subsequently, there were repeated questions about the possibility of Maxim Gorky and his son being poisoned. Involved in this case was Maria Zakrevskaya-Budberg’s lover, People’s Commissar Genrikh Yagoda. Although there is no proof, it was also assumed that Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky were involved.


Nizhny Novgorod, the birthplace of author Alexei Maksimovich, was renamed in his honor in 1932; it remained Gorky until 1990.

On August 12, 1928, Moscow’s Central Park of Culture and Leisure opened. In 1932, he was given the famous writer’s name.

The Literary Newspaper’s logo combines a profile of Alexander Pushkin with a stylised image of Gorky.

In 1965, Alexey Maksimovich’s final years were spent in the former home of businessman Stepan Ryabushinsky, which was officially designated as a museum. This is where Gorky’s vast library and interior furnishings have been maintained.

A memorial honoring the author was built in Tashkent in 1975. The six-meter monument was created by architect Sabir Adylov and sculptor Yakov Shapiro. It was first put in place at a metro station before being relocated. Eventually, the artwork was discovered in the Uzbek capital’s Literary Institute courtyard.

The author’s name was used for a long period by the Moscow Art Academic Theater. It was split into two separate ones, the Moscow Art Theater, in 1987. The Moscow Art Theater named after M. Gorky and A.P. Chekhov.

Numerous cultural establishments in various Russian cities bear Gorky’s name. His name is also associated with the Moscow Literary Institute.

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