Bella Akhmadulina

Bella Akhmadulina bigraphy, stories - Russian poet, translator and writer

Bella Akhmadulina : biography

10 April 1937 – 29 November 2010

Izabella Akhatovna "Bella" Akhmadulina ( 10 April 1937 – 29 November 2010) was a Soviet and Russian poet, short story writer, and translator, known for her apolitical writing stance. She was part of the Russian New Wave literary movement. She was cited by Joseph Brodsky as the best living poet in the Russian language.

Despite the aforementioned apolitical stance of her writing, Akhmadulina was often critical of authorities in the Soviet Union, and spoke out in favour of others, including Nobel laureates Boris Pasternak, Andrei Sakharov, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. She was known to international audiences via her travels abroad during the Khrushchev Thaw, during which she made appearances in sold-out stadiums. Upon her death in 2010 at the age of 73, President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev hailed her poetry as a "classic of Russian literature."

The New York Times said Akhmadulina was "always recognized as one of the Soviet Union’s literary treasures and a classic poet in the long line extending from Lermontov and Pushkin." Sonia I. Ketchian, writing in The Poetic Craft of Bella Akhmadulina, called her "one of the great poets of the 20th century. There’s Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Mandelstam, and Pasternak – and she’s the fifth".


Akhmadulina died at her home in Peredelkino near Moscow on 29 November 2010. She was 73 years old. Her death was announced about one hour later. Akhmadulina’s husband said her death was from a heart condition, describing it as a " cardiovascular crisis". Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin both paid tribute, with Medvedev writing on his blog that the death was an "irreparable loss". Medevdev also wrote that Akhmadulina’s poetry was a "classic of Russian literature".


In 1977, Bella Akhmadulina became an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (see ).

  • USSR State Prize Laureate (1989)
  • State Prize of the Russian Federation (2004)
  • Order of Friendship of Peoples (1984)
  • Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 2nd class (11 August 2007) – for outstanding contribution to the development of national literature and many years of creative activity; 3rd class (7 April 1997) – for services to the State and outstanding contribution to the development of national literature
  • Laureate of the Foundation "Banner" (1993)
  • Winner of the "Nosside" (Italy, 1994)
  • Laureate of "Triumph" (1994)
  • Pushkin Prize winner (1994)
  • Laureate of the President of the Russian Federation in the field of Literature and Art (1998)
  • Winner of "Brianza" (Italy, 1998)
  • Winner of the journal "Friendship of Peoples" (2000)
  • Prize winner Bulat Okudzhava (2003)
  • Honorary Member of Russian Academy of Arts



  • I Am Twenty (1961), directed by Marlen Khutsiev


  • There lives such a guy (1964), directed by Vasily Shukshin ()
  • Sport, sport, sport (1970), directed by Elem Klimov


  • Clean Ponds (1965), based on the works of Yuri Nagibin
  • Stuardess (1968)

Personal life

Bella’s first marriage in 1954 was to Yevgeny Yevtushenko, another famous poet of the era; her second husband since 1960 was Yuri Nagibin, major novelist and screenwriter. By her 1971 marriage to film director Eldar Kuliev she has a daughter, Elizaveta Kulieva, who is also a poetess. In 1974, she married her last husband, the famous artist and stage designer Boris Messerer. They had homes in Peredelkino and Moscow.

Early life, education and works

Bella Akhmadulina was born the only child of a Tatar father and a Russian-Italian mother. Her birth occurred on 10 April 1937. They underwent evacuation to Kazan when World War II broke out.

Akhmadulina’s literary career began when she was a school-girl working as a journalist at the Moscow newspaper, Metrostroevets, and improving her poetic skills at a circle organized by the poet Yevgeny Vinokurov. Her first poems appeared in the magazine October after being approved by established Soviet poets. These first poems were published in 1955. Émigré critic Marc Slonim described her prospects as follows in 1964 (Soviet Russian Literature): "Her voice has such a purity of tone, such richness of timbre, such individuality of diction, that if her growth continues she will be able some day to succeed Akhmatova" as "the greatest living woman poet in Russia".