Mikhail Bulgakov Biography

(Novelist and Playwright Best Known for His Novel 'The Master and Margarita')

Birthday: May 15, 1891 (Taurus)

Born In: Kyiv, Ukraine

Mikhail Bulgakov was a Russian doctor turned writer. As a writer, he is best remembered for his popular novel ‘The Master and Margarita’, a major 20th century masterpiece. The son of a state councilor cum assistant professor, he grew up with an interest in theater and wrote scripts which his siblings acted out. Bulgakov became interested in European and Russian literature when he enrolled at the First Kiev Gymnasium in 1901. However, he chose a different career path and went on to study medicine at Kiev University. His medical experience was extensively utilized during World War I when Bulgakov volunteered as a medical doctor with the Red Cross. Later on, he worked as a surgeon. After becoming ill with typhus, he abandoned his medical career to take up writing. Bulgakov wrote several novels during his writing career that became inspirations for numerous movies and theatrical plays. His last years were spent as a consultant at the Bolshoi Theatre. The legendary writer died from nephrosclerosis in March 1940, at the relatively young age of 48.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov

Died At Age: 48


Spouse/Ex-: Elena S. Bulgakova (m. 1932–1940), Lubov Belozerskaya (m. 1925–1932), Tatiana Lappa (m. 1913–1924)

father: Afanasiy Bulgakov

mother: Varvara Mikhailovna Bulgakova

siblings: Ivan Afanasievich Bulgakov, Nadezhda Afanasievna Bulgakova, Nikolay Afanasievich Bulgakov, Varvara Afanasievna Bulgakova, Vera Afanasievna Bulgakova, Yelena Afanasievna Bulgakova

Born Country: Ukraine

Novelists Playwrights

Died on: March 10, 1940

place of death: Moscow, Russia

Notable Alumni: Taras Shevchenko National University Of Kyiv

Cause of Death: Nephrosclerosis

City: Kyiv, Ukraine

More Facts

education: Taras Shevchenko National University Of Kyiv

Childhood & Early Life
Mikhail Bulgakov was born on 15 May 1891, in Kiev, Russian Empire, to Afanasiy Ivanovich Bulgakov, an assistant professor cum state councilor, and Varvara Mikhailovna, a former teacher. He was one of the seven children in his family.
He started attending the First Kiev Gymnasium in 1901. There he was drawn to literature. His father’s death in 1907 left him bereaved.
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Medical Career
Mikhail Bulgakov graduated in 1909 and went on to join Kiev University’s Medical Faculty. He later joined Kiev Military Hospital as a physician.
During World War I, he was badly injured while serving as a medical doctor at the front. To treat his pain, Bulgakov developed the habit of taking morphine. He eventually abandoned this habit in 1918.
Following his graduation from Kiev University in 1916, he worked as a surgeon at the Chernovitsy Hospital. After moving to Vyazma and working there for a year, Bulgakov returned to Kiev where he started a private practice.
In February 1919, he became ill with typhus. Following his recovery, he gave up his medical career.
Writing Career
In 1919, Mikhail Bulgakov wrote his first two plays, ‘Self Defence’ and ‘The Turbin Brothers’. Both these plays opened at the theatre with great success.
He then wrote the plays ‘The Fatal Eggs’ and ‘Heart of a Dog’ which were released in 1924 and 1925, respectively. Although both were successful, ‘The Fatal Eggs’ earned criticism from most Soviet critics for mocking at the Russian Revolution.
Also in 1925, the Russian writer came up with ‘The White Guard’, a novel about a White Army officer and his family during the Russian Civil War. The following year, his play ‘The Days of the Turbins,’ which was based on ‘The White Guard,’ was premiered at Moscow Art Theatre.
In the ensuing years, he wrote several more plays, including ‘The Purple Island’ and ‘Zoyka's Apartment’. Premiered in 1928, these comedies earned much appreciation from the audience. The same year, he began working on his play ‘The Master and Margarita’.
In the year 1936, Mikhail Bulgakov enjoyed initial success with his play ‘The Cabal of Hypocrites’. However, this play was subsequently banned after it received bad reviews from the Russian newspaper ‘Pravda.’
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During the last decade of his life, he continued to work on his pending play ‘The Master and Margarita.’ A censored version of the play was published in a Moscow magazine in the 1960s.
His last play was ‘Batum’, a portrayal of his friend and politician Joseph Stalin's early revolutionary days. The play was banned even before the rehearsals.
Many of his plays were published after his death. These include 'A Country Doctor's Notebook', 'Notes on the Cuff & Other Stories', 'Six Plays', and 'The Terrible News: Russian Stories from the Years Following the Revolution'.
Major Works
Mikhail Bulgakov is best remembered for his novel ‘The Master and Margarita’ that was published posthumously. The novel has elements of dark comedy, supernatural phenomena, and Christian philosophy. It is considered one of the best novels of the 20th century by many critics.
Family & Personal Life
Mikhail Bulgakov married Tatiana Lappa in 1913. He divorced her in 1924 and went on to marry Lyubov Belozerskaya.
Bulgakov lived with his second wife until 1931. He then left her to marry Yelena Shilovskaya.
Death & Legacy
Mikhail Bulgakov died on 10 March 1940, due to a kidney disorder called nephrosclerosis.
His house has been converted to a museum called the Bulgakov House. This museum contains his personal belongings as well as his different works.
One Street Museum, a famous museum in Ukraine, has several works dedicated to his family.
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