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Annenkova-Bernár, Nina Pávlovna (1859/64–1933)

Annenkova-Bernár, Nina Pávlovna (1859/64–1933)

Russian stage actress and author of plays and short stories. Name variations: Nina Annenkova-Bernard. Born Ánna Pávlovna Bernárd between 1859 and 1864 in Russia; died in Orenberg, Russia, in 1933; married twice, first to Druzhinina, second to Borisova.

Selected works:

Noose (1896); Daughter of the People (1903).

The daughter of a tax assessor, Anna Pávlovna Bernárd studied gymnastics and theater as a child. In 1880, she made her debut on the Russian stage as an actress in a provincial theater. For the next eight years, she worked in these smaller venues until she won a place in a Moscow theater company. Between 1889 and 1893, recognized as a charismatic talent, she performed primarily in Moscow and St. Petersburg, before she left the stage to devote herself to writing.

Bernárd's romance with actor Modest Pisarev, with whom she lived during the 1890s, helped launch her literary career. Under the pen name Nina Pávlovna Annenkova-Bernár, her short story "Noose" was published for the first time in 1896 in a journal edited by one of Pisarev's friends. For the next four years, her stories appeared regularly in journals. Her frequent subjects were the least considered figures of Russian society: women, children, the poor and the elderly. It is a common belief that Pisarev's influence was not limited to publishing contacts; he also did a good deal of the stories' writing, often editing and adding whole pages to drafts presented to him by Bernárd for review.

Though Bernárd also wrote for the stage, only one of her dramas experienced any critical success. Daughter of the People, about Joan of Arc , was written and staged in 1903, with Bernárd in the leading role. In 1917, she retired to Orenberg, where she ran a theater studio for children. She married twice, though neither union is thought to have influenced her as much as her relationship with Pisarev. Bernárd died in 1933.

Crista Martin , Boston, Massachusetts

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