Nabokov's Pictorial Biography / Иллюстрированная Биография
1. Russia 1899-1919
Vladimirovich Nabokov was born into an old, wealthy and aristocratic
Russian family in St. Petersburg, on April 23, 1899. In his memoir,
"Speak, Memory," he notes that his first childhood memories
can be dated to 1903.
reads a book of butterflies in 1907 at Vyra, the summer estate of
his maternal grandfather located about 50 miles south of St. Petersburg.
During his youth, Nabokov spent his time collecting butterflies
around the Vyra estate, a place which would come to represent the
essence of childhood for the writer.
Nabokov family fled Russia in 1919 after the Bolshevik revolution
led to instability at home. This photo, taken less than six months
before they were to leave Russia, shows the five Nabokov children:
from left, Vladimir, Kirill, Olga, Sergei and Elena.
2. Exile 1919-1940
Exile in England
fleeing Russia, the family moved to England, where Nabokov attended
Trinity College at Cambridge from 1919-1922. He began his studies
in zoology but later focused on Russian and French literature.
Death of his father
shown in larger photo, spends the summer after his father's death
at the home of Svetlana Siewert, his one-time fiancee. Nabokov's
father, Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov (bottom right) was shot to
death in Berlin while trying to stop right-wing Russian assassins
from killing politician Pavel Miliukov in March 1922.
Marriage to Vèra
Nabokov and Vèra Slonim met in May of 1923 at a charity costume
ball and later married in 1925 in Berlin. After settling down into
marriage, Nabokov never purchased his own house, even with the great
wealth and success of "Lolita." He claimed that after the loss of
his home in Russia his only attachment was, in his terms, the "unreal
estate" of memory and art.
Birth of his son
Nabokov's son, Dmitri, was born in May of 1934. Dmitri went on to
become an opera singer but also helped his father translate early
work to English.
3. America 1940-1960
Refuge in America
Fleeing from the threat of Nazi forces, the Nabokovs moved to New
York in 1940 and remained there for twenty years. While living in
America, Nabokov established himself as a writer and continued to
pursue his passion for the study of butterflies.
Nabokov's "Lolita," which he referred to as a "time
bomb," was first published by Olympia Press in France in 1955.
Three years later, the book was published in America where some
critics dubbed it "pornography," recommending that it
be banned from shelves.
4. Switzerland 1960-1977
The final years
Although the controversy surrounding "Lolita" affected
Nabokov for the rest of his life, some critics say he wrote his
best works during the last 17 years of his career. After moving
to Switzerland in 1960, he published acclaimed works such as "Pale
Fire" and "Ada or Ardor" before his death in 1977.