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Lydia Chukovskaya, author of Sofia Petrovna
Lydia Chukovskaya (1907-96) was the daughter of the well-known critic and children’s author Kornei Chukovsky. She was brought up in a literary milieu in St Petersburg (then Leningrad) and when she was 20 she started working at a publishing house for the editor Samuil Marshak. She married and had a daughter, Elena, then remarried. But after Stalin’s Purges began her husband Matvei Bronstein, a physicist, disappeared. Sofia Petrovna was written in secret in 1939-40. It was ﬁrst published in Russian, in Paris, in 1965 and in English (with a different title) in the UK in 1967. After World War Two Lydia Chukovskaya again worked in publishing. In the 1970s she was very supportive to writers like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and became a respected ﬁgure in the Russian dissident movement. She published another novel, several volumes about her conversations with the poet Anna Akhmatova over three decades, literary criticism, poetry, and essays on children’s literature.