In Moscow it’s still possible to imagine what it was like to walk its streets in the late 19th century. Today, I strolled up Malaya Dmitrovka, a street closely associated with Chekhov throughout his life. I used as my guide, Rosamund Bartlett’s Literary Russia.
This three-story building at Malaya Dmitrovka 1 housed the editorial offices of the comic journal The Spectator, to which Anton and Nikolai contributed while still students. The journal’s secretary became Nikolai’s common law wife and together they introduced Anton to what Bartlett calls “the sleazy world of the Moscow dailies.”
Contrasting the sacred with the profane, directly across the street from the offices of The Spectator is the Church of the Virgin, built in the 1650’s.
Chekhov lived here at Malaya Dmitrovka 11 for four months in the spring of 1899 while he waited for his house in Yalta to be completed—his doctors had ordered him to move there for his health. He also returned here in the fall prior to spending the winter in Nice. This was a period when he was actively engaged in having his plays produced at the Moscow Art Theatre and started a relationship with its leading lady, Olga Knipper, whom he married in 1901.
Chekhov also briefly stayed here across the street at Malaya Dmitrovka 12 in April 1899.
When Chekhov returned from his trip to Sakhalin Island in December 1890, he moved into an apartment behind this six-story building at Malaya Dmitrovka 29. It was very cramped quarters for his family, but they stayed there until 1892, when Chekhov finally realized his dream of having a place in the country and bought his small estate at Melikhovo about 50 miles outside of Moscow.