Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852) was the son of a Ukrainian gentleman farmer who was the author of several folk comedies. He attended a variety of boarding schools, where he proved an indifferent student but was admired for his theatrical abilities. In 1828 he moved to St. Petersburg and began to publish stories, and by the mid-1830s he had established himself in the literary world and been warmly praised by Pushkin. In 1836, his play The Inspector-General was attacked as immoral, and he left Russia, remaining abroad for most of the next dozen years. During that time he wrote two of his best-known stories, “The Nose” and “The Overcoat,” and in 1842 he published the first section of his masterpiece Dead Souls. Gogol became increasingly religious as the years passed, and in 1847 he became the disciple of an Orthodox priest who influenced him to burn the second part of Dead Souls and then abandon writing altogether. After undertaking an extreme fast, he died at the age of forty-two.
Anna Summers (translator) is the editor and translator of two books by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In: Three Novellas and There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories, and the coeditor and cotranslator of Petrushevskaya’s There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales. Born and raised in Moscow, she now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is the literary editor of The Baffler.
Konstantin Makovsky (illustrator; 1839–1915) was one of the most celebrated artists in the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century.
Igor Grabar (illustrator; 1871–1960) was a student of Konstantin Makovsky’s, and a celebrated painter in his own right. He later became one of the premier art administrators in the Soviet Union, personally advising Joseph Stalin.
Aleksei Kivshenko (illustrator; 1851–1895) was a Russian painter acclaimed for his depictions of historical subjects, especially battles.