Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (January 29, 1860-July 15, 1904) was one of the greatest dramatists of the nineteenth century. From Chekhov, many contemporary playwrights have learned how to use mood, apparent trivialities, and inaction to highlight the internal psychology of characters. Chekhov’s four major plays — The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard — are frequently revived in modern productions. Born the son of a grocer and the grandson of a serf, and brought up in a small port town on the Sea of Azov, he went to the University of Moscow to train as a doctor in 1879. On graduation, he practiced medicine in Moscow and wrote for the “St. Petersburg Gazette.” His first full-length plays, Ivanov and The Wood Demon, were unsuccessful. After the failure of the first production of The Seagull Chekhov swore that he would never have another play produced. However, Constantin Stanislavski persuaded him to revive The Seagull. Stanislavski gave it a very careful production at his Moscow Arts Theatre, employing his methods of acting and direction, and the play was recognized as an important new drama. Uncle Vanya, a reworking of The Wood Demon, followed The Seagull, quite successfully, although Three Sisters, again produced at the Moscow Arts Theatre, was not well received. In 1904, after the first production of The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov suffered two heart attacks and died in the German spa town of Bradenweiler, just as he was beginning to be recognized internationally as a major dramatist. He is buried in Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. ν