I. Biography of the Author
The Russian author Anton Chekhov is among the major short-story writers and dramatists in history. He wrote seventeen plays and almost six hundred stories.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in Taganrog in South Russia on the Azov Sea on January 17, 1860. He was the third of six children of Pavel Egorovich Chekhov, a grocery store owner. Chekhov's grandfather was a serf (a peasant who lives and works on land owned by another) who bought his family's freedom in 1841. The young Chekhov and his brothers and sisters worked in the family store and studied in the local school. Their extremely religious father often beat them. In 1876 his father's business failed, and the family moved to Moscow, Russia, for a fresh start. Chekhov, then sixteen, was left behind to finish his schooling.
The blond, brown-eyed Chekhov was a self-reliant, amusing, energetic, and attractive young man. In August 1879 he joined his parents in Moscow, where his father was a laborer and his mother did part-time sewing work. Chekhov immediately entered the medical school of Moscow University. He soon took his father's place as head of the household, a responsibility he carried the rest of his life. After graduating in 1884 he went to work in the hospital at Chikino, Russia, but by December of that year he had begun coughing up blood—the first symptom of the tuberculosis (an infection in the lungs) that eventually caused his death on July 2, 1904.
In an attempt to add to his income in Moscow, Chekhov wrote for the humor magazines he himself liked to read. His first story was published in March 1880 by a magazine called the Dragonfly, which went on to publish nine more of his stories, most of them signed "Antosha Chekhonte," that year. His first book was the Tales of Melpomene, a collection of six humor pieces published with his own money (on credit) in mid-1884. Chekhov's first stories were full of wit and enthusiasm and showed his promise as a...
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