Lyudmila Petrushevskaya - Biography



Lyudmila Stefanovna Petrushevskaya was born on 26 May, 1938 into the family of an office worker in Moscow. She struggled through her hard starving post-war childhood, staying with some of her relatives, and even lived in an orphan asylum near Ufa. After the war she returned to Moscow and graduated from the Journalism Faculty of the Moscow University. Afterwards she was a correspondent for some Moscow newspapers and worked in publishing houses; in 1972 she became the editor at the Central Television Studio.

At quite an early age Lyudmila Petrushevskaya started to write poems and scenarios for students’ parties, without thinking seriously about literary career. Her first published work was the story Through the fields that came out in Aurora magazine in 1972. From that time, however, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya was not published for over ten years.

Her very first plays were noticed by amateur theatres: the play Music classes(1973) was staged by Roman Viktyuk in 1979 and was almost at once banned (published only in 1983). Her Chinzano was staged in Gaudeamus Theatre in Lvov.

For a long time Lyudmila Petrushevskaya had to write “for the drawer”– editors did not dare to publish stories and plays about «shadowy sides of life». In spite of that she never stopped working and creating plays of jokes (AndanteKolombina’s Flat), dialogue plays (Glass of WaterIsolated Box), and the monologue play (20th Century Songs that gave name to her collected plays).

Professional theatres started to stage Petrushevskaya’s plays in the 1980s: the one-act play Love ran in Theatre Na Taganke, Kolombina’s Flat in Sovremennik Theatre, and Moscow Chorus in MKhAT.

Petrushevskaya’s prose works continued her dramaturgy both in themes and artistic devices. Her works represent an original encyclopedia of woman’s life from youth to old age: Adventures of VeraStory of KlarissaDaughter of KseniaThe CountryWho will answer?MysticismHygiene and many others. In the 1990s she wrote the cycle Songs of East Slavs, and in 1992 the story The Time Night . She writes fairy tales for both adults and children: There Lived an Alarm ClockWell, mum, well! – Fairy tales, told to children (1993); Little Sorceress , and Doll Romance(1996).

Lyudmila Petrushevskaya has recently won of the World Fantasy Award. This prize is awarded at the International Fantasy Forum in the American city of Columbus. The authoritative jury marked out her collection of terrifying tales under the ominous titleThere Once Lived a Woman who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby .

To some extent fantasy is always present in almost all of Petrushevskaya’s verses, stories, fairy tales, plays and scripts. In addition to that, her irrepressible imagination finds an outlet in writing songs, painting and, of course, in creating her unusual hats, which have long become the trademark of Lyudmila Stefanovna.

There are inconsistent evidences concerning the issue if Petrushevskaya’s profile served as a prototype for the main character of Yuriy Norshteyn’s famed animated cartoon film Hedgehog in the Fog (1975). On the one hand, this episode is directly narrated in Petrushevskaya’s book. On the other hand, Yuriy Norshteyn himself described the process of appearance of Hedgehog in a different way. It is positively known, however, that Petrushevskaya served Norshteyn as a prototype for the Heron in the animation The Heron and the Crane (1974).

Lyudmila Petrushevskaya lives and works in Moscow.

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