Anna Vyrubova : biography
Anna Alexandrovna Vyrubova, née Taneyeva () (16 July 1884 in Moscow — 20 July 1964, Helsinki), was a lady-in-waiting, best friend and confidante to Tsaritsa Alexandra Fyodorovna.
Anna Vyrubova and her sister Alexandra dressed for a ball in 1903. Vyrubova was the daughter of Aleksandr Taneyev, Chief Steward to His Majesty’s Chancellery and a noted composer. Her mother, Nadezhda née Tolstoy, descended from Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov. Due to these connections she was attached to the imperial court at an early age. She had two younger siblings, Sergei, and Alexandra.
She was a childhood playmate of Felix Yussupov, the man who spearheaded the murder of Grigori Rasputin. Yussupov found her unattractive:
Life at Court
Anna Vyrubova wading at the beach with Grand Duchesses Tatiana, left, and Olga Nikolaevna of Russia. Courtesy: Beinecke Library. The Tsarina valued Anna’s devotion to her and befriended her, ignoring women of more distinction at the court. Anna married Alexander Vasilievich Vyrubov, a naval officer, even though she was warned by Rasputin that the marriage would be an unhappy one.Radzinsky, Edvard, The Rasputin File, Doubleday, 2000, ISBN 0-385-48909-9, p. 81 The couple eventually divorced. Her mother reportedly told interrogators following the Russian Revolution that Vyrubov "proved to be completely impotent, with an extremely perverse sexual psychology that manifested itself in various sadistic episodes in which he inflicted moral suffering on her and evoked a feeling of utter disgust." Radzinsky, p. 91 Although her memoirs testify to the contrary, she is often credited with the introduction of Rasputin to the family of Tsar Nicholas II. In fact it was Milica of Montenegro, but for a long time she served as a go-between for the Imperial family and Rasputin. All the contact went through her.
During World War I she trained as a Red Cross nurse and nursed soldiers along with the Tsarina and the Tsarina’s two older daughters, The Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana. She was severely injured in a train accident in January 1915; the convalescent Vyrubova found herself a paraplegic, but credited Rasputin with saving her life with his prayers. Following the Russian Revolution, Anna Vyrubova underwent a medical examination to prove her virginity. The provincial investigator concluded that she was too naive and unintelligent to have had any influence over the Tsarina.Radzinsky, Edvard, The Rasputin File, Doubleday, 2000, ISBN 0-385-48909-9, p. 88 Vyrubova escaped the Bolshevik revolution by fleeing to Finland.
Anna Vyrubova with Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna in 1916. Courtesy: Beinecke Library. In Anna’s own memoirs, she describes her perils in prison and her narrow escape from execution when, miraculously, she met several old friends of her father’s on a St. Petersburg street who helped her escape her captor. She endured much hardship avoiding the Bolsheviks, and was only able to escape to Finland in December 1920.Vyrubova, Anna, Memories of the Russian Court
Before leaving Russia, she became friends with the revolutionary writer Maxim Gorky who urged her to write her memoirs and she followed his advice. Her memories of life at court provided rare descriptions of the home life of the Tsar and his family. She spent the rest of her life first in Viipuri and later in Helsinki. She took vows as a Russian Orthodox nun, but was permitted to live in a private home due to her physical disabilities. Her grave is located at the Orthodox section of Hietaniemi cemetery in Helsinki.