Anna Andreevna Akhmatova (1899 - 1966)

Anna Andreevna Akhmatova (real last name - Gorenko) is an outstanding Russian poet of the XX century. She was born in a place near Odessa in a noblemen's family. As a child she had been taken to Tsarskoe Selo and afterwards she lived in Leningrad for the whole life. Her father Andrey Andreevich Gorenko was a navy mechanical-engineer, her mother Inna Erazmovna derived her genealogy from Khan Akhmat, which explains the poet's pen-name. The first books by Akhmatova «Vecher», «Chyotki», «Belaya Staya», published before the Revolution, represented love lyrics. It was in this genre where the young poetess initially made her main discoveries. The man's voice predominated in poetry before Akhmatova, a woman had nothing but hearken. Now, according to Akhmatova's own phrase, she «taught women to speak».

Strong and independent, but preserving its charm - a woman individuality held sway in her poems. The world of love was marked with a stable and confident touch of realism, with an essential minimum of details sticking to one's memory and having psychological significance. Akhmatova's love plot was always broader and more meaningful than a concrete emotional experience. In some inconceivable manner the epoch reverberated in this love entreaty.

Such a bright and independent personality was beyond the scope of Soviet ideology and aesthetics. Since the early 1920s her works did not find publishing and she was completely separated from literature in 1946 due to the notorious resolution of the Communist Party Central Committee»About Magazines «Zvezda» and «Leningrad». Her troubles were aggravated because of the fact that her husband Nikolay Gumilev was executed in 1921 (accused of taking part in a counter-revolutionary plot). In the 1930s her son Lev Gumilev (later - a famous scientist) was arrested. Akhmatova's verses «Muzh v mogile, / Syn v turme, / Pomolites obo mne» («My husband is in the grave, / My son is in prison, / Pray about me») sound as a tragic epitaph to her family. However, in spite of the fate, the 1930s and 1940s turned out to be a new summit of her poetic mastership after the young years. The poems «Putyom Vseya Zemli» (1940), «Rekviem» (1935-1940) were created, and the work on «Poema Bez Geroia» (1940-1962) was started. In the same period a series of verses about wartime and post-war Europe, about the threats of fascism was formed. The poem «Rekviem» - her main accomplishment in the prewar years - was congenial to «Arkhipelag GULAG» by Solzhenitsyn written many years later. During the World War II she appeared as a militant civic poet. Some of her poems («Klyatva» and others) became far-famed. In her late years Akhmatova wrote lyrics of all-human philosophic sense, translated a lot, created a few scholar works about Pushkin and delivered speeches on the point in Pushkinsky Dom; besides that, she was as member of Pushkin Commission and participated in the text processing of the Academic edition of Pushkin's Collected Works. In that period several memoirs (about Modigliani and others) were written. New epic conceptions («Prolog» and others) possessed her mind as well. In 1964 Akhmatova was awarded with an international prize «Ethna Taormina» (Italy) in the field of poetry and in 1965 in Oxford she took her degree of Doctor of Literature.

The complex of Akhmatova's materials stored in Pushkinsky Dom had been formed for many years of separate arrivals from different people.

The Manuscript Department holds the creative and epistolary legacy of the poetess, biographic documents, books with her donating signs and photos, in the funds of her contemporaries and literature organizations, in the collection of history and literature materials of the XVIII-XX centuries. Among autographs there are fair copies of the poem «U Samogo Morya» (1914) dedicated to N.S.Gumilev, and of a book «Nechyot: Sedmoy Sbornik Stikhotvoreniy. 1940-1946» suppressed after the resolution of the Communist Party Central Committee in 1946. Many of 76 poems in the book included important cases of variant reading as compared to the texts published later. The notebook of 1960-1961 containing rough copies of poems, notes on «Poema bez Geroya» and a list of poems meant for publication, is also of undoubted value.

The samples of Akhmatova's epistolary legacy, generally few in number, embrace more than 20 letters, characterizing her creative and friendly relations and uncovering the history of publication of some works.

Among other preserved documents there are those concerning Akhmatova's figuring in the Managing Committee of All-Russian Writers' Union in the early 1920s and her life conditions in that period as well as the documents for her biography, the notes on Akhamtova's talks to the poet P.N. Luknitsky and rare photos.

The Manuscript Department disposes a large number of books with her donating signs to N.S.Gumilev, L.N.Gumilev, A.S.Lurye, V.A.Sutugina and others. Akhmatova's inscriptions on the books - always significant - offer an important source of information about her creational activity and biography.

The complex of materials is periodically replenished. Image materials, which embodied Akhmatova's look (photos, portraits, busts), and the posters of the 1920s with the information about her appearance in literary soirees are collected at the Literature Museum.

The Library holds the books with donating signs to A.A.Blok and F.Sologub having arrived from the addressees' personal libraries and a few books that Anna Andreevna presented to Pushkinsky Dom.

The poetess's creative and epistolary legacy is constantly used for scientific research.


A.I. Pavlovsky, T.A. Kukushkina