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Ivan Krylov

Ivan Andreyevitch Krylov was born near St. Petersburg in 1769 into a poor family of the minor nobility. His father, an army captain, died without a pension when Krylov was ten, leaving the family destitute. Krylov trained for the civil service, but from his early years nurtured literary ambitions. As a young man he wrote for satirical magazines and the theatre, but was constantly thwarted by the official censor. At the age of forty he published his first book of Fables, works written after the manner of Aesop and La Fontaine. They were an instant success, and were followed over the next 35 years by another eight books. He became a celebrated and much-loved literary figure. He was appointed librarian of the newly-opened public library and given a generous pension and the rank of State Advisor. In old age he became known for his eccentricity, and anecdotes of his notorious behaviour abounded. He was also a glutton, who could devour mountains of food at a sitting. He never married, though his cook’s daughter Sasha was widely thought to be his. After his death in 1844 his reputation continued to grow: streets were named after him and many monuments were erected to his memory.

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