Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
Anton Chekhov
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Anton Chekhov at his home in Melikhovo, April 1897Anton Chekhov

17 January 1860

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov born in Taganrog, Southern Russia, one of six children of a grocer, and grandson of a former serf.

1879 to 1892

Lives in Moscow, obtaining his medical degree at the University in 1884. After publishing many humorous short stories to support his family, he gradually turns to more serious writing, while still practising as a doctor. By 1888 he is contributing stories to the literary monthlies: a sign that he is now accepted as a major author.

15 November 1887

Ivanov, Chekhov's first play to be staged, is premiered in Moscow.

27 December 1889

First staging of The Wood Demon (later used as raw material for Uncle Vanya).


Visits the penal settlement on the island of Sakhalin, beyond eastern Siberia to take a census. The journey of 6500 miles, travelling largely in unsprung carts over unsurfaced roads, is appalling.


Buys an estate near the village of Melikhovo, south of Moscow, and lives there with his family until 1898: his greatest period of creativity as a short story writer. While at Melikhovo, he acts as district medical administrator, successfully organises campaigns against cholera, and helps finance new local schools.

17 October 1896

Disastrous premiere of The Seagull in St Petersburg.


Moves to the Crimean resort of Yalta for the sake of his health: he had suffered from tuberculosis for some years. First sees Olga Knipper (who was later to become his mistress and then his wife) playing Irina in the Moscow Art Theatre revival of The Seagull.


Works for famine relief in the central Volga region, and in Yalta sets up a sanatorium "for the needy suffering from consumption".

26 October 1899

First staging of Uncle Vanya, at the Moscow Art Theatre, with Olga Knipper as Yelena and Stanislavsky as Astrov. (The play's English premiere was in 1914).

31 January 1901

Three Sisters is premiered, and rather poorly received, at the Moscow Art Theatre, with Olga Knipper as Masha.

25 May 1901

Marries Olga Knipper and they travel to a sanatorium near the Aksenovo spa.

17 January 1904

The Cherry Orchard is premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre on Chekhov's 44th birthday; Olga as Ranevskaya.

2 July 1904

Chekhov dies on a visit to the German spa, Badenweiler.

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