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Nadezhda Durova (1783-1866) is the first known female officer in the Russian military. Her memoir, The Cavalry Maiden, remains one of the earliest autobiographies in the Russian language and a fascinating exercise in creating a celebrity persona. In contrast to the story she tells in her memoir, Durova did not run away from her parents’ home to join the cavalry. She was married and had a son, but chose to edit these facts out of her memoirs. In the cavalry, Durova eventually drew the attention of Tsar Alexander I himself, and he became her patron, allowing her to serve and to continue rising through the ranks. After she retired from the army, Durova maintained her male persona, Alexander Alexandrov, in some areas of her life until her death.