Maxim Gorky was the pen-name of Alexei Maximovich Peshkov, the great central figure in modern Russian literature. He was born in 1868 in an artisan family in Nizhny Novgorod,a city now renamed after him. After a miserable childhood in his grandfather’s house – his father had died when he was very young – Gorky wandered about like a tramp for severa lyears, enduring misery and poverty, but mixing with the downtrodden who later peopled his stories and novels.
Gorky began writing in 1892. His first works were mainly romantic stories; he later graduated to Chekovian-type stories of dreary lives and useless intellectuals. With his increasing involvement in Bolshevism and the Revolution, his novels became artistic exposures of the evils of capitalistic society.
After the Revolution, Gorky had immense influence on the progress of literature and the arts in Soviet Russia. In the last years of his life he was appointed Head of the Soviet Writers’ Union and founded the School of Soviet Realism. He died in 1936.