Andreev, Leonid Nikolaevich (1871–1919) By Hinds-Bond, Jessica
Leonid Nikolaevich Andreev was a prolific Russian author, widely popular in the first decade of the 20th century, whose fictional and dramatic works spanned the divide between realism and symbolism.
Andreev was born in Orel, a provincial capital south of Moscow, and died in Finland. He studied law in St Petersburg and Moscow. After a brief and unsuccessful legal career, he worked as a journalist, prose writer and dramatist, quickly making a name for himself as a successful short-story writer once his stories began to appear in newspapers. His first published volume of stories (1901) was an immediate success, with its first two printings selling out in two weeks. He turned to playwriting five years later, although he continued to write short stories until late in life. Andreev’s creative work sparked much debate from both realist and symbolist writers. He developed a close friendship with realist writer Maxim Gorky, although the two grew to disagree on questions of literary style and politics, as Andreev’s work strayed from its early realist tendencies and revolutionary ideals. Gorky mentored Andreev in his early career and spearheaded a collection of literary reminiscences by famous writers upon the latter’s death. Andreev’s popularity waned, along with his health, during the final decade of his life.