Free Russian Printing House

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Free Russian Printing House


founded in London by A. I. Herzen in February 1853 with the cooperation of Polish émigrés in order to publish revolutionary works that were forbidden in Russia.

In summer 1853 the Free Russian Printing House published Herzen’s proclamations St. George’s Day! St. George’s Day! and The Poles Forgive Us. During the first few years the publications of the Free Russian Printing House were illegally brought into Russia by Polish emigres and a few Russians who were working at the printing house. From 1856, N. P. Ogarev directed the Free Russian Printing House with Herzen. They succeeded in setting up a two-way connection with their Russian readers and correspondents; materials from Russia were delivered to London by various routes.

The Free Russian Printing House published the periodicals Poliarnaia zvezda (from 1855), Golosa iz Rossii (from 1856), Kolokol (from 1857), Pod sud (from 1859), and Obshchee veche (from 1862), as well as My Past and Thoughts by Herzen, Historical Collection (1859 and 1861), Secret Russian Literature of the XlXth Century . . . (1861), Notes of the Decembrists (1862 and 1863), poetry by K. F. Ryleev, revolutionary proclamations, and other works. The publications of the Free Russian Printing House, especially from 1858 to 1863, played an important role in developing Russian social thought and the Russian liberation movement. In April 1865 the Free Russian Printing House was moved to Geneva, and soon its ownership was transferred by Herzen to the Polish émigré L. Czernecki, the closest assistant of Herzen and Ogarev in the printing house.

In connection with the decline of the revolutionary movement in Russia after 1863 and the intensification of political terror there, and Herzen’s disagreements with the “young emigration,” the publishing activity of the printing house declined. In 1872 the Free Russian Printing House ceased publishing.


Desiatiletie vol’noi russkoi tipografii v Londone: Sb. ee pervykh listov, sostavlennyi L. Chernetskim. London, 1863. Facsimile reproduction: Moscow-Leningrad, 1935.
Bibliograficheskoe opisanie izdanii vol’noi russkoi tipografii vo Lon-done 1853-65. Compiled by P. N. Berkov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1935.
Klevenskii, M. M. “Gertsen—izdatel’ i ego sotrudniki.” In
Literaturnoe nasledstvo, vols. 41—42. Moscow, 1941.
Eidel’man, N. la. Tainye korrespondenty “Poliarnoi zvezdy.” Moscow, 1966.
Chernykh, V. A. “K voprosu o tirazhakh londonskikh izdanii Gertsena i Ogareva.” Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik za 1970 g. Moscow, 1971, pp. 123-131.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.