Biography of Nikolay Gumilyov
Nikolay Stepanovich Gumilyev was a Russian poet.
Nikolay was born on April 3rd in Kronshtadt, to the family of the doctor S.Y. Gumilev. In 1887, the Gumilev family moved to Tsarskoe Selo, where Nikolay began studying at the School of Gurevich. In 1900, the Gumilev family moved to the city of Tiflis in the Caucases in order to improve the children’s health. Nikolay attended the best school in the area, Tiflis One.
It was here that his first poem, entitled “I ran from the cities to the forest” was published in the magazine “Tiflis Listok”. The poem was signed “K. Gumilev”.
In 1903, the Gumilev family moved back to Tsarskoe Selo, where Nikolay entered the 7th class at the Nikolaevsky Tsarskoe Selo School. The Director of the school was the poet ‘I.F. Annensky’. It was at this time that Gumilev began his acquaintance with his future wife A. Gorenko, the poetess who would come to be known as ‘Anna Akhmatova’.
Having finished school in Tsarskoe Selo, Gumilev travelled to Paris. He studied French literature and art at the Sorbonne. While he was there, he had time to publish the first collection of his poems in 1905. It was entitled “Path of the Conquistadors”. Gumilev thought of it as unsuccessful, and never had it republished.
In Paris in 1907, Gumilev began publishing a bi-weekly literary magazine called “Sirius,” in which he printed his own compositions under various pseudonyms (“Anatoly Grant”, “K-o”, and “K”), and the compositions of the young poetess Anna Akhmatova. In all, Gumilev produced 3 issues of “Sirius”.
In the beginning of the summer of 1907, Gumilev made his first trip to Africa. In January 1908, his second book, entitled “Romantic Colors”, came out. It was dedicated to A. Gorenko.
In August 1908, Gumilev enrolled in the Legal College of St. Petersburg University, but he never finished his legal studies. In May of 1911 he submitted his petition of discharge, and began studying in the Romance and Germanic Languages Department of the Philological College at St. Petersburg University. He also became a member of the Romance and Germanic Languages Club.
From November 1909 to February 1910, Gumilev travelled to Abyssinia on an expedition organized by his colleague V. Radlovy. His experiences there were the foundation for his poems “Mik” (1914), and “Abyssinian Song”. Gumilev went to Abyssinia a total of three times. The second trip was from September 1910 to March 1911, and the third trip was from April 1913 to September of that same year. On the third trip, Gumilev himself served as the trip’s guide. The pictures and items found on his trips were later given to the Museum of Anthropology.
In the Spring of 1910, Gumilev came out with his third collection of poetry, entitled “Pearl”. It was dedicated to V. Bryusov, and brought Gumilev much fame.
In August 1911, the “Poet Workshop” was formed. Gumilev and Gorodetsky lead this group. They put out articles lauding the appearance of the new artistic movement known as Akmeism. They also began publishing a magazine “Giperborey”, which was edited by Gumilev, Gorodetsky, and Lozinsky.
In 1912, Gumilev came out with a new collection of poems entitled “Strange Sky”. In this collection, Gumilev included not only his own poems, but also translations of Teofil Gothe’s compositions. In the beginning of 1913, a group of St. Petersburg students put on an amateur presentation of Gumilev’s play “Don Juan in Egypt”. In March of that year, the play was presented in the Trotsky Theater.
In August 1914, WWI began. Gumilev volunteered for service, and served in the Leib-guard lancer regiment. He also served in the Gusarsky Alexandrisky regiment, and was honored with two Georgievsky Crosses. He related some of his war tales in “A Cavalryman’s Notes”, which was printed in the daily newspaper “Birzhevy Vedomost” from February 1915 to January 1916, and a collection of poems entitled “Kolchan” in 1915.
During the October Revolution, Gumilev was abroad, where he had been stationed in May of 1917. He lived in London and Paris, studied Eastern literature, translated, and worked on the drama “The Ruined Tunic”. In April 1918, he returned to Petrograd. Along with other renowned writers such as A. Blok, M. Lozinsky, and K. Chukovsky, Gumilev began working at the publishing house “World Literature”, which had been founded by A.M. Gorky. There Gumilev served as the the head of the French Literature department. He was a member of a committee on poetic translation editing. Gumilev himself translated many works. That summer, Gumilev put out the books “Bonfire” and “Porcelain Pavilion (Chinese Poetry)”.
In November of that year, the Institute of Living Language was opened. Gumilev gave lectures there on poetic theory and history. He also began teaching in the Institute of Art History and other literary schools. In the Spring of 1920, Gumilev was chosen as a member of the Reception Commission of the Petrograd department of the All-Russian Writer’s Union. Later, in 1921, Gumilev was selected as the leader of the Petrograd department of the All-Russian Poet’s Union.
In the summer of 1921, Gumilev had the poetic collections “Marquee” and “Pillar of Fire” published. The latter was dedicated to his second wife A.N. Engelhardt.
In August of 1921, Nikolay Gumilev’s life came to a tragic end, Gumilev was executed by the Bolsheviks for alleged conspiratorial activities.