Virginia Llewellyn Smith
- Chekhov’s Leading Lady by Harvey Pitcher
Murray, 288 pp, £8.50, October 1980, ISBN 0 7195 3681 2
When Chekhov died in the German town of Badenweiler in 1904, at his bedside with his wife Olga Knipper and the doctor was a young Russian friend called Rabeneck. Thirty-three years later, Rabeneck sought out Olga Knipper, then on tour with the Moscow Art Theatre, in a Paris restaurant. Olga recognised but did not acknowledge him: on either side of her sat an ‘archangel’, a Soviet watchdog. Olga was to die in 1959, nearly a century after Chekhov’s birth. In his lifetime the Russian intelligentsia saw its heyday, and Olga lived on to see that world vanish for ever.