Morozov, Nikolai

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Morozov, Nikolai Aleksandrovich


Born June 25 (July 7), 1854, in Borok, in present-day Nekouzskii Raion, Yaroslavl Oblast; died there July 30, 1946. Russian revolutionary, social figure, scholar, and author; from 1932, an honorary member of the chemistry, physics, and mathematics department of of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Morozov was the son of a landowner and a female serf. In 1874 he joined the Chaikovskii Circle in Moscow and took part in the “going to the people” populist movement. At the end of 1874 he left for Geneva, where he edited the journal Rabotnik (The Worker). In 1875 he joined the Paris Commune section of the First International.

In January 1875, Morozov returned to Russia and was arrested, but was released on bail. A defendant in the “Trial of the 193,” he was freed afterward. In 1878 he joined the Land and Freedom party and became one of the editors of the journal Zemlia i volia (Land and Freedom). At the suggestion of A. D. Mikhailov, he founded Listok “Zemli i voli” (The “Land and Freedom” Leaflet). In 1879 he became a member of the executive committee of the People’s Will party and the editorial board of the newspaper Narodnaia volia (People’s Will). Early in 1880, Morozov went abroad; in London during December of that year, he became acquainted with K. Marx.

Attempting an illegal return to Russia, Morozov was arrested at the border on Jan. 28, 1881. After the “Trial of the 20” in 1882 he was sentenced to prison for life and held in solitary confinement in the Shlissel’burg fortress until November 1905. During this period he studied chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics, and history. He later devoted himself to research and teaching, mainly in chemistry and astronomy. In The Periodic Systems of the Structure of Matter (1907) and D. I. Mendeleev and the Importance of His Periodic System for the Chemistry of the Future (1907), both written almost entirely in Shlissel’burg fortress, Morozov predicted the existence of inert elements and offered a number of scientific hypotheses, later confirmed, on the compound structure of the atom, on the possibility of using intraatomic energy, and on the mutual transformations of atoms. He also wrote books on mathematics, astronomy, and meteorology.

Morozov’s literary work was first published in the 1870’s. His verses, written in prison and published in From Behind Prison Bars (Geneva, 1877), became part of free Russian poetry. Morozov’s prison poetry later appeared in From Inside Prison Walls (1906) and Stellar Songs (1910). The revolutionary tendencies of the latter led to Morozov’s being sentenced in 1911 to a year in prison. His lyrical poetry was noted for its sympathy for the struggle against autocracy, its praise of heroic sacrifice, and its appeals that fallen comrades be avenged. A satirical note was also sounded in his verse.

In the 1900’s, Morozov turned to the genre of “scientific poetry.” His books on the history of religion and culture include Revelation Amid Storm and Tempest (1907), The Prophets (1914), and Christ (books 1–7, 1924–32). In these works he tried to examine several problems of world history, particularly the history of Christianity. His theories were built mainly on astronomical phenomena, to which he attributed excessive significance; such theories are contradicted by historical fact. Morozov’s memoirs, Stories From My Life (vols. 1–4, 1916–18; later published in a two-volumes edition in 1965), are of interest in the study of Russian populism.

During World War I, Morozov went to the front as a representative of the Zemstvo Union. He delivered popular science lectures in Siberia and in the Far East and taught at the P. F. Lesgaft Higher Courses and in the Psychoneurological Institute. He also participated in the Moscow State Conference of 1917. From 1918 to the end of his life, he was director of the Lesgaft Natural Sciences Institute.

Morozov’s name is borne by the Morozovia asteroid, by a crater on the far side of the moon, and by an urban-type settlement near Leningrad. Morozov was awarded the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.


[Stikhi]. In Poety-demokraty 1870–1880-kh gg. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.


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Morozova, K. A. N. A. Morozov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1944. (Contains an appendix listing his works.)
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.