Joseph Aleksandrovich Brodsky (1940-1996) was a writer, a translator, a teacher, the person known and respected in Russia and worldwide back then and now.

His biography is tightly connected to Leningrad (former name of St Petersburg) where he was born on May 24, 1940. The image of the post-war city stayed in the poet’s memory and influenced his art. His adult life started right after the 7th grade. Young Joseph tried various professions: he was a doctor, a sailor, a worker, a geologist, but he was really interested in literature. Later he was given the title of the “honorary citizen of St Petersburg”.

As Brodsky said, his first composition was created at the age of 18. First publication took place in 1962. Joseph read and studied a lot. He was inspired by Marina Tsvetaeva, Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Osip Mandelstam and others.

He was briefly arrested in 1960, but in 1963 he was really followed for dissident claims. In 1964 he was again arrested and the same year had a heart attack that was followed by him being sent to the psychiatric facility. After several court cases, Brodsky was conceded guilty and sent to Arkhangelsky region.

Photo taken from the website

Lots of public art figures of those times defended Brodsky: Anna Akhmatova, Dmitry Shostakovich, Samuil Marshak, Korney Chukovsky, Konstantin Paustovsky, Alexander Tvardovsky, J.B. Sartr. As a result of massive “attacks” on the authorities, Brodsky was returned to Leningrad with no right to publish works. However, his works were widely published abroad. In 1972 he went to Vienna and revoked soviet citizenship.

After that he worked in Michigan University and taught there the history of Russian literature, Russian and universal poetry, the theory of verse. He also actively published his essays and writings. In 1979 he got American citizenship and started to teach in other study places. All together his teaching experience was over 24 years.

In 1991 Brodsky was given the Nobel prize. He died in 1996.

Joseph Brodsky stays the important and influential person in Russian literature. If you want to know more and visit places related to his life in St Petersburg, contact me directly to adjust a guided tour.