April 01, 1999

A Birthday Gift

As St. Petersburg and Russia prepare to mark the 100th birthday of the writer Vladimir Nabokov, on April 24, justice has finally been served. For the first time, Nabokov’s birthday will be celebrated in the beloved house of his childhood at 47 Bolshaya Morskaya Street, in the center of St. Petersburg. Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg in 1899; his family was forced to flee Russia in 1919.

Since the state-financed museum to the writer’s memory at the family summer residence in the village of Rozhdestveno burned to the ground in 1995, the world’s only Nabokov museum is now located on the first floor of the gorgeous art nouveau building on Bolshaya Morskaya. The upper floors of the building, however, are still occupied by the liberal daily newspaper, Nevskoye Vremya.

Nabokov spent most of his life in emigration, in Germany, France, the US and Switzerland. Only the house on Bolshaya Morskaya did he consider his true home, and it is lovingly described in his autobiography, Speak, Memory. While living there, Nabokov wrote and published his first collection of poetry in 1916.

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