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Taras Shevchenko (9.03. [O.S. 25.02.] 1814 10.03. [O.S. 26.02.] 1861)) - Ukrainian writer

Taras Shevchenko was a prominent Ukrainian poet, folklorist and a public figure. His literary heritage is huge and valuable for the modern Ukrainian language. In the second half of the 20th century his followers even released a special encyclopedia called Shevchenko Dictionary. The poet was born on March 9th 1814 in Moryntsi village of the Kiev Governorate. His parents were serf peasants and he was the third child in the family. It is believed that his forefathers were brave Cossacks from the Zaporozhian Host, which he often mentioned in his literary works.

Most of Tarass childhood was spent in Kyrylivka. When he was almost ten, his mother died. Two years later his father also died. From the age of twelve he was a lone, homeless child. Soon, he became the deacons servant. They taught him how to draw and write. At that time he started reading Hryhoryi Skovorodas works. In 1829, he became the servant of one rich landowner, whose name was Engelhardt. The latter had noticed Tarass passion for painting and decided to train him as a personal painter. In 1838, thanks to some prominent people, such as Briullov, Venetsianov and Zhukovsky, Shevchenko was bought off his landlord. In the same year he managed to enter the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts.

As a sign of respect to Zhukovsky, Shevchenko dedicated to him one of his greatest works - the poem Katerina. In 1842 he created a painting for this poem, which became the only surviving picture of that period. The peak of his writing creativity fell on 1840-1846. This was the time when he published a collection of poems Kobzar. He also wrote the well-known works Haydamaky (1841) and Naymichka (1845). In 1847 he was arrested for participation in the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood. He was also disallowed to write poems or draw pictures. In the years 1848-1849 he took part in the Aral Sea study expedition. He was assigned to sketch the local scenery.

When this became known he was sent to exile to Novopetrovskoye, which is now called Fort Shevchenko. He stayed there till 1857 and then returned to St. Petersburg. His life at the fort is well known by Diary which he led in Russian. In 1859, he visited Ukraine. The outstanding poet and writer died in 1861. Before his death he spent some time compiling textbooks for Ukrainian schools. He was buried at the Orthodox cemetery in St. Petersburg. Two months later his ashes were reburied in Kanev, Ukraine, in accordance with his will.



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