Mikhail Staritskii

Staritskii, Mikhail Petrovich


Born Dec. 2 (14), 1840, in the village of Kleshchintsy, Zolotonosha District, Poltava Province; died Apr. 14 (27), 1904, in Kiev. Ukrainian writer and theater figure.

Staritskii studied at the universities of Kharkov and Kiev. His world view was formed under the influence of the revolutionary and democratic ideas of T. G. Shevchenko, N. G. Chernyshev-skii, and N. A. Nekrasov. Beginning in 1864, Staritskii appeared in plays performed by amateur theater societies. In 1882, together with M. L. Kropivnitskii, he organized the first professional Ukrainian theater company, and from 1885 to 1891 he headed his own company. One of the founders of the professional Ukrainian theater, Staritskii created a solid acting ensemble. His productions were noted for their striking theatricality and ethnic authenticity.

Staritskii began his literary career by translating the works of Russian and foreign poets into Ukrainian. In 1881 he published a collection of original poetry, From an Old Notebook: Songs and Thoughts. Later his dramatic works became widely known. His plays, which include It Was Not Decreed (1883), Oh, Don’t Go to Parties, Gritsiu (1890), In the Dark (1893), and Fate (1894), reveal the fundamental contradictions of the postreform era, in particular the parasitism of the exploiters and the hard, oppressive life of the working people. His historical dramas Bogdan Khmel’nitskii (1887), Marusia Boguslavka (1897), and The Defense of Busha (1899) reflect the Ukrainian people’s heroic struggle against the Polish szlachta (aristocracy) and the Turko-Tatar conquerors in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Staritskii also dramatized works by N. V. Gogol, E. Ozheshko, and others. Toward the end of his life, he wrote several historical novels in Russian, including the trilogy Bogdan Khmel’nitskii, which consists of Before the Storm (1894), The Storm (1896), and At the Wharf (1897). His work was highly esteemed by I. Ia. Franko. Staritskii’s plays are often performed in Ukrainian theaters.


Tvory, vols. 1–3. Kiev, 1963–65.
P’esy. Leningrad-Moscow, 1958.
Karmeliuk. Kiev, 1959.
Pered burei. Kiev, 1960.
Buria. Kiev, 1961.
Upristani. Kiev, 1962.


Franko, I. “Mykhailo Staryts’kyi.” Tvory, vol. 17. Kiev, 1955.
Kurilenko, l.M.P. Staryts’kyi: Zhyttia i tvorchist’. Kiev, 1960.
Sokirko, L. M. P. Staryts’kyi: Krytyko-biografichnyi narys. Kiev, 1960.
Komishanchenko, M. M. Staryts’kyi. Kiev, 1968.