Russian philosopher Helena Blavatsky, or Madame Blavatsky, was one of the co-founders of the Theosophical Society. She popularized the slogan “There is no religion higher than truth.” She was inspired by the Arya Samaj and later converted to Buddhism. She also wrote books such as The Secret Doctrine.
One of the greatest Russian women poets, Anna Akhmatova had started writing poems at age 11. She was part of the Acmeists, who laid down their own style, Acmeism. Poema bez geroya and Requiem remain two of her finest works. She later wrote about the horrors of the Stalinist regime.
Russian-American journalist and The New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen is known for his sharp criticism of political figures such as Donald Trump. The renowned author of the internationally popular books such as The Man Without a Face and The Future Is History, he identifies as nonbinary and trans.
Maya Deren was a Ukrainian-born American filmmaker known for her experimental work. She played a major role in promoting the avant-garde in the mid-20th century. A multifaceted personality, she was also a dancer, choreographer, film theorist, photographer, and writer. She abandoned established rules of filmmaking and created her own techniques. Sadly, she died at the young age of 44.
Russian-born German author Lou Andreas-Salomé apparently rejected renowned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s marriage proposal and then married a professor instead. A skilled psychoanalyst, she was also close to Rainer Maria Rilke and Sigmund Freud. She was one of the first to offer a psychoanalytic perspective to female sexuality.
Alexandra Kollontai was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and diplomat. She served as the People's Commissar for Welfare in Lenin’s government. A powerful figure, she became the first woman in history to become an official member of a governing cabinet. She was also one of the few women to play a prominent role during the Russian Revolution.
Remembered as one of the greatest Russian literary figures of the 20th century, Marina Tsvetaeva was an integral part of Russian symbolism. She faced the Russian Revolution and lost her youngest daughter to the famine that followed. After her husband’s execution under espionage accusations, she committed suicide at age 48.
Lyubov Dostoevskaya was a Russian memoirist and writer. The daughter of popular Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky and his wife Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina, Lyubov Dostoevskaya is best remembered for her work, Dostoyevsky as Portrayed by His Daughter. Many of her memoirs, which were written in French, were translated into other European languages.
Anna Vyrubova was a Russian writer and lady-in-waiting of the Imperial Russian Court at the time when Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna served as the empress consort of Emperor Nicholas II. A confidante and best friend of Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna, Vyrubova enjoyed her position at the court. She also played a key role in popularizing Grigori Rasputin in the Imperial Russian Court.
Anna Larina was a Russian memoirist best remembered for her efforts to rehabilitate her husband Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin after he was executed in 1938. Fifty years after his death, Bukharin was cleared of all charges, thanks to Larina's persistent effort. Anna Larina is credited with writing the popular memoir This I Cannot Forget.
Zinovia Dushkova is a Russian poet, historian, philosopher, and author. A prominent writer, Dushkova's works have been translated into seven languages. In 2015, she was honored with the 20 Years of Gagauzia Medal. In 2017, Zinovia Dushkova’s book, The Call of the Heart, was honored at the Nautilus Book Awards with a silver medal in the United States of America.
Rufina Pukhova was a Russian memoirist who wrote two memoirs about her husband Kim Philby, a British double agent for the Soviet Union. Pukhova is credited with helping Philby fight depression and alcoholism after his defection. After his controversial death in 1988, she vehemently denied rumors of suicide and maintained that he died of a heart condition.
Blogger, author, and journalist Alexandra Mitroshina is also a well-known women’s rights activist. The founder of movements and projects such as I Did Not Want to Die and You Are Not Alone, she is also popular on social media and has penned the book Private Instagram Blogs Promotion.
Edith Södergran was a Finnish poet whose poetry has influenced numerous lyrical poets all over the world. Counted among the greatest Swedish-language poets of modernism, Södergran's work continues to influence Swedish-language musical lyrics and poetry. Edith Södergran did not live long enough to experience the appreciation of her poetry as she died at the age of 31 due to tuberculosis.
Russian author Nina Berberova was initially part of Maxim Gorky’s entourage. Best known for her short stories and novellas, she had also penned biographies, novels, and poetry. She had also worked with Voice of America and taught at Yale and Princeton. Most of her works spoke of exiles.
Russian dissident and poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya is best remembered for opposing the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. She co-founded the underground journal A Chronicle of Current Events, which reported atrocities by the Soviet government. She was sent to a psychiatric hospital but moved to France and then Poland upon her release.
Best remembered for her six-volume autobiography, Meine Lebensgeschichte, a seminal work that documents the growing up years of a Jewish woman in the nineteenth century Europe, German writer Fanny Lewald was also a woman's rights activist, advocating for their education. A prolific author since the age of thirty, she wrote mainly on family, marriage, social problems and travel.