Nadezhda Teffi bigraphy, stories - Russian writer

Nadezhda Teffi : biography

1872 - 6 October 1952

Nadezhda Teffi, known simply as Teffi, () (9 May (21 May) 1872, Saint Petersburg - 6 October 1952, Paris) was a Russian humorist writer. Teffi is a pseudonym. Her real name was Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya (Наде́жда Алекса́ндровна Лoхви́цкая); after her marriage Nadezhda Alexandrovna Buchinskaya (Бучи́нская). Together with Arkady Averchenko she was one of the most prominent authors of the Satiricon magazine. Her birthday in various sources varies in the range 1871-1876. The most recent findings say that she was born in May 1872. Teffi's sister Mirra Lokhvitskaya (1869–1905) was a notable Russian poet.

English translations

  • A Modest Talent and Diamond Dust (one-act plays), and Talent (story), from A Russian Cultural Revival, University of Tennessee Press, 1981.
  • All About Love (story collection), Ardis Publishers, 1985.
  • The Woman Question (one-act play) and Walled Up (story), from An Anthology of Russian Women's Writing, Oxford, 1994.
  • Time (story), from The Portable Twentieth Century Reader, Penguin Classics, 2003.
  • Love and A Family Journey (stories), from Russian Stories from Pushkin to Buida, Penguin Classics, 2005.


Teffi was born into an old gentry family. Her father, a lawyer and scholar, was a prominent man in Saint Petersburg society. Her mother was of French descent, a lover of poetry and familiar with Russian and European literature. Teffi was first introduced to literature when, as a young girl, she read Childhood and Boyhood by Leo Tolstoy, and the fiction of Alexander Pushkin. Her own first published poetry appeared in the journal The North in 1901 under her full name. In 1905 her first story The Day Has Passed was published in the journal The Fields, also under her full name; the story was written in 1904 and first submitted to the journal God's World, which turned it down. In the years surrounding the Russian Revolution of 1905 she published stories with political overtones against the Tsarist government.

In an answer to a questionnaire given to writers in 1911, Teffi said the following about her early literary work:

Teffi married Vladislav Buchinsky, a polish lawyer and judge, but they separated in 1900. They had two daughters and a son together. She was a contributor to the first Bolshevik journal The New Life, whose editorial board included writers like Maxim Gorky and Zinaida Gippius. Her best work appeared in the Satiricon magazine and in the popular journal Russkoye Slovo (Russian Word). In Russia she published many collections of poetry and short stories, and a number of one-act plays. She first used the pseudonym "Teffi" with the publication in 1907 of her one-act play The Woman Question. She provided two separate explanations of the name; that it was suggested to her in relation to a friend whose servant called him "Steffi", or that it came from Rudyard Kipling's song "Taffy was a walesman/Taffy was a thief."

She had to leave Russia after the October Revolution. In 1919 she left Saint Petersburg and travelled to Istanbul. In 1920 she settled in Paris and began publishing her works in the Russian newspapers there. In exile she published several collections of short stories and poems, a volume of memoirs, and her only novel An Adventure Novel (1932). The critic Anistasiya Chebotarevskaya compared Teffi's stories, which she said were "highly benevolent in their elegiac tone and profoundly humanitarian in their attitudes", to the best stories by Anton Chekhov. Teffi is buried at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery in France.

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