Konstantin Konstantinovich (K.R.) - the Grand Duke, a grandson of Emperor Nicolas I, first uncle of Nicolas II. He has left a memorable trace in Russian history and culture of the late XIX - early XX centuries. Military man, manager of science, poet - these are the diverse manifestations of the extraordinary personality of this representative of the imperial Romanov family.
From the very childhood the Grand Duke was, according to tradition, trained for military service. First he served in the Navy, later for several years was a company commander in the Life Guards Izmailovsky Regiment where he organized a literature circle «Izmailovsky Pastimes», at the meetings of which they read poetry and discussed literary matters. In 1891 Konstantin Konstantinovich became a Commanding Officer of the Life Guards Preobrazhensky Regiment; in 1894 he was promoted to the rank of the Major-General, since 1907 he became the Infantry General.
Since May 1889 Konstanin Konstantinovich had been President of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. In this position he invariably supported all major undertakings of Russian science. Reorganization of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography; foundation of the Department of Literature within the Academy with the academicians emeritus from famous Russian writers and poets; organization of large-scale exhibitions devoted to Russian history and culture; a construction of a new building of the Library of the Academy of Sciences, - this is far not the complete list of deeds carried out with his participation.
Konstantin Konstantinovich entered Russian literature as the poet K.R. He authored collections published in Petersburg entitled «Poems by K.R.» (1886), «New Poems by K.R. 1886-1888» (1889), «Third Collection of Poems by K.R. 1889-1899» (1900), «Poems by K.R. 1900-1910» (1911). In his poetry Konstantin Konstantinovich followed classic standards, the highest of which was A.S.Pushkin. Among his contemporaries he worshipped A.A.Fet, highly valued A.N.Maikov and Y.P.Polonsky. Dominant themes of K.R.'s poetry are love and landscape lyrics. The melodic quality of his poems attracted attention of many composers - P.I.Chaikovsky, S.V.Rakhmaninov, A.K.Glazunov, T.A.Kyui, and A.T.Grechaninov.
A major event in the history of literature was translation and commentary to Shakespeare's «Hamlet» made by Konstantin Konstantinovich, and later staging of an amateur performance where he played the leading role. The largest work of the Grant Duke was a drama-mystery «The Tsar of Israel» (1914) in the amateur performance of that K.R. also took part as an actor.
The Grand Duke and the President of the Academy played major part in the organization of celebrations in commemoration of A.S.Pushkin's centennial anniversary, in creation and making of Pushkinsky Dom. It was to this institution that Konstantin Konstantinovich left, through his last will and testament, his literary archive and collection of autographs of outstanding figures of Russian and world culture. Already in November 1915 after K.R.'s untimely death the first portion of manuscripts was transferred from the Marble Palace, that belonged to the family of Konstantin Konstantinovich, to the Library of the Academy of Sciences, and since 1923 when Pushkinsky Dom received its first separate premises, the whole archive of the Grand Duke became the property of the future Institute of Russian Literature.
Among K.R.'s papers of obvious interest from the literature-historic point of view is the Grand Duke’s epistolary exchange with the outstanding figures of Russian culture. Konstantin Konstantinovich treated letters of people dear to him with extreme care, and after they passed he often asked their relatives to return him his own letters. That was how he came to possess the two-side correspondence that he arranged in chronological order and bound in separate volumes. In this fashion he designed his correspondence with P.I.Chaikovsky, A.A.Fet, I.A.Goncharov, A.N.Maikov, L.N.Maikov, Y.P.Polonsky, and N.N.Strakhov. Separate bound volumes are constituted with references of different people to his own poems, translation and production of Shakespeare's «Hamlet». These volumes also include a great number of autographs of outstanding people of Russian culture of the late XIX - early XX centuries.
Now when the name of the poet K.R., the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, has been returned to Russian culture both his wide archive and his creative manuscripts - poems, versions of the drama «The Tsar of Israel», translations from Shakespeare, Schiller, Goethe and others - have received the due recognition.
Within K.R.'s personal fund there is also preserved a part of his collection of autographs of outstanding historical figures. First of all, these are 11 autographs of Catherine the Great, the letter from Metropolitan Platon (Levshin) to Emperor Paul I, the poem by F.I.Tyutchev «To A. Pletneva» («Whatever life teaches us…»), the letter from Goethe to Madam von Vogt, the letter from Schiller to Frederica Juliana Grisbach and others. Priceless are autographs of A.S.Pushkin that had been in the collection of Konstantin Konstantinovich.
For a long time K.R.'s materials were practically inaccessible to researches. Only in the last decade the scholars have come to realize the role of the Grand Duke in Russian culture. Basing on the fund materials L.I.Kuzmina wrote a monograph study «The August Poet» (SPb., 1995); there was published a volume of his correspondence prepared by researches of the Manuscript Department («K.R. Selected Correspondence». St.Petersburg, 1999). The articles and publications referring to K.R. and his archive appeared in the «Annual Book of the Manuscript Department of Pushkinsky Dom for 1997» (St.Petersburg, 2002): L.I.Kuzmina. «V.V.Pushkareva-Kotlyarevskaya («From the Materials of the Archives of K.R. and N.A.Kotlyarevskaya and from Personal Reminiscences)»; «Letters of the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich to A.A.Shakhmatov» (published by T.G.Ivanova); as well as in the magazine «Russian Literature» (№ 1, 2002): «The Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and Vera Rudich» (published by T.G.Ivanova).