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Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev


Nikolai Gumilev, USSR Poet.


Gumilev, Nikolai was born on April 3, 1886 in Kronstadt. Son of a naval doctor.


Studied French literature at the Sorbonne, 1907-1908.


Grew up in Tsarskoe Selo and Tiflis. At Tiflis secondary school, fell under the influence of revolutionary Marxism. Returned to Tsarskoe Selo in 1903.

First volume of poetry. Put' Konkvistadorov published in 1905. First voyage to Africa (from France) in 1907.

Married Anna Akhmatova in 1910 and a son, Lev, was born in 1911. Before World War I, became a wellknown literary figure (poet, member of the editorial board, and literary critic of the Petersburg magazine Apollon). Close to Annenskii, later to Briusov.

Leader of the acmeist school (in opposition to the Symbolists). Travelled to Italy in 1912. Second voyage to Africa (Abyssinia) in 1913 on an expedition organised by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In 1914, volunteered for military service, served in cavalry regiments, twice awarded the St. George Cross. After the February Revolution 1917, went on a military mission through Scandinavia and Britain to France, trying to get to the Eastern front (submitted a report on Ethiopia to the French). Returned in April 1918 through London and Murmansk to Petrograd.

Divorced from Akhmatova. Married Anna Engelhardt in 1919 (she and her daughter presumably died of hunger during the Leningrad siege in World War II). During the revolutionary years, active as lecturer, translator and editor.

Elected chairman of the Petrograd Union of Poets (in preference to A. Blok). 1921, continued to promote acmeism (Tsekh Poetov). Arrested 3 August 1921, and accused of an antiBolshevik, monarchist conspiracy.

Shot with 61 others by the Cheka. Although excluded almost completely from all anthologies and reference books, and not republished for 6 decades, remained one of the most loved and influential among the modern Russian poets. The only rival of Blok among the early 20th century Russian poets, and his opposite in style, feeling and mode of expression.

The centenary of his birth saw his comeback in the Soviet Union.