Birth of Aleksandr Trifonovich Tvardovsky, Soviet Writer, Poet and Journalist

21 June 1910

Aleksandr Trifonovich Tvardovsky was born on June 8 (21), 1910 in the village of Zagorye, Smolensk Governorate (now Pochinkovsky district, Smolensk Region) in the family of the blacksmith Trifon Gordeyevich Tvardovsky and Maria Mitrofanovna, nee Pleskachevskaya. The family was literate, at home they read aloud the works of Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Nekrasov. Aleksandr studied at a rural school and began writing poetry early in life.

At the age of 14, Aleksandr Tvardovsky began sending his writings to Smolensk newspapers. The first poetic publication was the short poem A New Hut (Smolenskaya Derevnya newspaper, July 1925). On May 25, 1926, the first essay At the Mill was published in the Yuny Tovarishch newspaper. During this period, Tvardovsky got acquainted with the poet Mikhail Isakovsky, who then worked in the editorial office of the Rabochy Put’ newspaper; the relationship between the two later developed into friendship.

In 1928, Aleksandr Trifonovich moved to Smolensk, where he joined the Smolensk Association of Proletarian Writers, from which he was expelled in 1930 as a “small intellectual” who “broke away from the class” and “did not work well with the masses”. In 1931, the family of Aleksandr Tvardovsky was recognized as kulaks, therefore his parents, brothers and sisters were sent to the village of Russian Turek in the Urzhumsky District of Gorky Territory (now Kirov Region).

In 1931, Tvardovsky published his first long poem The Road to Socialism. In 1932, he entered the Smolensk Pedagogical Institute. He combined his studies with the work in the Rabochy Put’ newspaper. After the second year, he was forced to leave the institute due to the reputation of the “son of a kulak” and harassment in the press, which called Tvardovsky “a kulak undergrowth” with “kulak rhymes”.

Aleksandr Trifonovich Tvardovsky’s fame was brought by the poem The Land of Muravia (Moscow, 1936), dedicated to collectivization. The poem was highly appreciated by recognized poets and awarded the 2nd Degree Stalin Prize. Thanks to the recognition of the Tvardovsky’s poem, with the assistance of Alexander Fadeyev, it was possible to bring his relatives back from exile. Becoming a member of the Union of Writers of the USSR, in 1936 he entered the third year of the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History, from which he graduated in 1939. Before the Great Patriotic War, poetry collections Poems (1937), The Road (1938), Rural Chronicle (1939), Zagorye were published in Moscow (1941).

During the Great Patriotic War, Aleksandr Trifonovich Tvardovsky created the poem Vasily Tyorkin: A Book About a Soldier (1941-1945), the main character of which became the embodiment of the indestructible optimism and strength of spirit of the Russian people, his prowess and ingenuity. The military theme is also covered in such works as: A House by the Road (Moscow, 1946; 2nd Degree Stalin Prize, 1946), poems I Was Killed Near Rzhev... (1946), The Day the War Ended... (1948), Cruel Memory (1951), I Know, It’s Not My Fault... (1966), etc.

In 1950-1954 and 1958-1970, Tvardovsky served as the editor-in-chief of the magazine Novy Mir, which became a conductor of democratic ideas and a symbol of the “thaw” during Tvardovsky’s active years. His help and support affected the creative biographies of such writers as Fyodor Abramov, Vasil Bykov, Chinghiz Aitmatov, Sergey Zalygin, Gavriil Troyepolsky, Boris Mozhayev, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, etc.

Aleksandr Tvardovsky’s poem By Right of Memory (1966-1969, published in 1987) describes the tragic fate of the victims of collectivization. Another programmatic work of Tvardovsky was the poem Tyorkin in the Other World (1954, published in 1963) – an anti-Stalinist pamphlet denouncing the Soviet bureaucratic system.

The forced resignation from the post of editor-in-chief of Novy Mir in 1970 and the associated experiences undermined the health of Aleksandr Tvardovsky – it provoked a stroke and the development of long-standing lung cancer, which led to death on December 18, 1971.

Aleksandr Trifonovich Tvardovsky was awarded three Orders of Lenin (1939, 1960, 1967), Orders of the Red Star (1940), 2nd Degree Order of the Patriotic War (1944; for the poems Vasily Tyorkin and A House by the Road, “a large number of poems and essays about front-line life” and creative performances in front-line units), 1st Degree Order of the Patriotic War of the (1945; for “versatile writing and journalistic activity”), Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1970).

In 1995, a monument depicting Aleksand Tvardovsky together with his character Vasily Tyorkin was erected in Smolensk. In 2013, a monument to Tvardovsky was unveiled on Strastny Boulevard in Moscow, not far from the editorial office of the Novy Mir magazine.
 

Lit.: Большая советская энциклопедия. Т.42: Татары–Топрик. М., 1956. С. 37; Воспоминания об А. Твардовском: cборник / [cост. М. И. Твардовская]. М., 1982; Русские писатели и поэты. Краткий биографический словарь. М., 2000; Твардовский Александр Трифонович // Большая российская энциклопедия. Режим доступа: https://bigenc.ru/c/tvardovskii-aleksandr-trifonovich-a2e629
 

Based on the Presidential Library's materials:

РГАЛИ. Ф. 631. Союз писателей СССР. Оп. 16. Ед. хр. 510. Л. 1. Письмо редакции газеты "На страже Родины" А. А. Фадееву с упоминанием о поэме "Василий Теркин" А. Т. Твардовского

Твардовский А. Т. Фронтовые стихи. М., Л., 1941

Твардовский А. Т. Из фронтовых стихов. М., 1941 (Available in the ERR)

Твардовский А. Т. Баллада о Москве. Пенза, 1942

Твардовский А. Т. Смоленщина: Стихи. М., 1943 (Available in the ERR)

Твардовский А. Т. Фронтовая хроника: стихи. М., 1945 (Available in the ERR)

Отдых после боя. По поэме А. Твардовского "Василий Теркин": открытка. Издательство "Правда", 1954 (Available in the ERR)

Иллюстрации к поэме А. Твардовского "Василий Теркин" / О. Верейский: набор открыток / Верейский, О. Г. (худ.). М., 1961 (Available in the ERR)

"Василий Теркин" А. Твардовского в иллюстрациях О. Верейского : набор открыток / Верейский, О. Г. (худ.). М., 1980 (Available in the ERR)

Александр Твардовский в иллюстрациях О. Верейского: набор открыток / Верейский, О. Г. (худ.). М., 1981 (Available in the ERR)

Девина О. В. Авторская модальность в произведениях А. Т. Твардовского: автореф. дис. … канд. филол. наук. Калининград, 2012