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Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov


Varlam Shalamov, USSR Author.


Shalamov, Varlam was born in 1907 in Vologda. Son of an Orthodox priest, who was a missionary in the Aleutian Islands.


Studied law at Moscow University, 1925-1929.


Worked in a leather factory in Kuntsevo, 1924-1925. Accused of counter-revolutionary activity, and sentenced to 3 years of prison and 2 years in exile. Construction worker. Journalist in Moscow, 1933.

Re-arrested and sent to the Gulag, 1937. 5 years in prison camps. Re-tried in 1943, and sentenced to 10 years.

Released in 1953. Allowed to live in Moscow (possibly officially rehabilitated in 1956). Became widely known through his samizdat short stories, describing life in the Gulag camps. During his last years, some of his articles and poems were published in the official Soviet press.

A collection of his best short stories, Kolymskie Rasskazy, was published in 1978 in England. Spent his last years in a home for invalids, completely blind and deaf, and developed a mental disease which affected his speech. 3 days before his death he was taken to a mental hospital.

(4 years previously, when the first symptoms of the disease had appeared, his friends had been unable to convince the doctors to give him medical treatment). Remembered as one of the longestserving inmates to survive the Gulag prisons and camps and the author who gave the most vivid descriptions of the Gulag horrors.