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Anton Chekhov: A History Of His Life

Chekhov is the playwright of our next show "The Cherry Orchard" But... Who was he? Why is he still important today? Why do we still study his work?

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Chekhov was born in 1860 in Taganrog, Russian Empire

Taganrog is a port town next to the Sea of Azov in Southern Russia. His father was a grocer who often came into money troubles while his mother shared her love of storytelling with Anton and his siblings as they grew up. He had five siblings!


When Chekhov's father, Pavel, lost his business he moved their family to Moscow in order to look for work. Chekhov actually stayed behind to finish his studies in Taganrog. When he finally joined them again in Moscow he enrolled in Medical school.

An extremely Educated Man

Chekhov studied medicine and was a doctor for most of his early years. The above photo shows the University he attended in Moscow to receive his doctorate degree. He said "medicine is my lawful wife" and "literature is my mistress." He actually supported his family through their rough patch by writing hundreds of short comic pieces for local magazines under a fake name. He worked as a physician in the late 1880s and started to publish fiction works under his own name.

His Greatest Works

Chekhov wrote most of his best plays between the 1890s all the way until he died. In these plays, which he wrote during his own "golden period," he focused on character development and mood, attempting to show that these can be more important than a plot. Not much seems to happen to his depressed characters but their inner conflicts reveal so much about humanity. His works are also all meant to be comical but many directors tend to lose the comedy when doing a show. Four of his most famous and most studied works today are below, in order...

An Early Death

In 1904 at age 44 he died of Tuberculosis. This TB had actually affected him since his youth. His work has since influenced writers such as Henry Miller, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemmingway and James Joyce. He will certainly be remembered for many more years to come!

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