The definitive life of Chekhov which allows us finally to understand the personality of this great dramatist – and the influences at work on his writing.
• There have been many biographies of Anton Chekhov before – but this is the first to tell the story of his life as fully as we now realise is possible.
• Donald Rayfield has spent over five years combing through the extensive Chekhov archives all over Russia, uncovering thousands of documents and letters that have never been seen – from lovers, friends and family. These tell of a life far more entangled and turbulent than ever previously suspected.
• Chekhov's life was one long battle with his dependants and with the tuberculosis that was to kill him at 44. This biography strips the whitewash from the image of Chekhov. The result is not to denigrate him, but to show him in the full heroism of his short and prodigiously creative life – at times made hell by a monstrous father, possessive sister and delinquent elder brothers.
• The drama of Chekhov's life has an extraordinarily rich cast of characters, and took him all over Russia and the world. This biography is a vivid portrait of Russia and Russian society a hundred years ago, as well as an investigation of the emotions and conflicts and experiences which Chekhov transmuted into his stories and plays.