Writers Union of the Ussr

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Writers’ Union of the Ussr


a prominent organization of Soviet writers. According to its charter, the union is “a voluntary public creative organization of professional writers of the Soviet Union whose work promotes the struggle for the construction of communism, for social progress, and for peace and friendship among peoples” (Informatsionnyi biulleten’ sekretariata pravlen-iia SPSSSR, 1971, no. 7 [55], p. 9).

Until the creation of the Writers’ Union of the USSR, Soyiet writers belonged to various literary organizations—for example, RAPP (Russian Association of Proletarian Writers), LEF (Left Front of the Arts), Pereval (The Pass), and the Union of Peasant Writers. On Apr. 23, 1932, the Central Committee of the ACP(B) resolved “to unify all writers who support Soviet power and wish to participate in socialist construction to form a single union of Soviet writers with a Communist faction” (O partiinoi i sovetskoi pechati: Sb. dokumentov, 1954, p. 431). The First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers, convened August 1934, adopted a charter defining socialist realism as the fundamental method of Soviet literature and literary criticism.

Throughout Soviet history the union, under the guidance of the CPSU, has helped create a new society. During the Great Patriotic War hundreds of writers volunteered to serve at the front, fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army and Navy, and worked as war correspondents for division, army, front, and fleet newspapers. Military orders and medals were awarded to 962 writers; 417 writers sacrificed their lives during the war.

In 1934 the union had a membership of 2,500. As of Mar. I, 1976, it had 7,833 members, including 1,097 women, writing in 76 languages. Members include 2,839 prose writers, 2,661 poets, 425 playwrights and screenwriters, 1,072 critics and literary scholars, 463 translators, 253 children’s writers, 104 essayists, and 16 folk-lorists. The supreme body is the All-Union Writers’ Congress, convened in 1954, 1959, 1967, and 1971. The congress elects an administrative board, which organizes a secretariat, which in turn forms a bureau to deal with day-to-day matters. From 1934 to 1936 the administrative board was headed by M. Gorky, who played an outstanding role in the creation, organization, and ideological guidance of the board. The administrative board has since been headed at various times by V. P. Stavskii, A. A. Fa-deev, A. A. Surkov, K. A. Fedin, and G. M. Markov (chairman of the administrative board since 1977). The board supervises councils on the literature of Union republics, literary criticism, the writing of essays and publicist works, drama and theater, children’s and young people’s literature, literary translation, and cultural ties among writers of the world. The writers’ unions of Union and autonomous republics are organized in the same manner as the Writers’ Union of the USSR. Krai and oblast writers’ organizations have also been established in the RSFSR and some other Union republics.

The Writers’ Union of the USSR directs the publication of 15 literary newspapers in 14 languages of the peoples of the USSR and 86 literary and sociopolitical journals in 45 languages of the peoples of the USSR and five foreign languages. Official publications of the union include Literaturnaia gazeta and the magazines and journals Novyi mir (New World), Znamia (The Banner), Druzhba narodov (Friendship Among Peoples), Voprosy literatury (Problems of Literature), Literaturnoe obozrenie (Literary Review), Detskaia literatura (Children’s Literature), Inostrannaia literatura (Foreign Literature), lunosf (Youth), Sovetskaia literatura (Soviet Literature; published in foreign languages), Teatr (Theater), Sovetskaia rodina (Soviet Homeland; published in Yiddish), and Zvezda (Star).

The union’s administrative board directs the Sovetskii Pisatel’ Publishing House, the M. Gorky Institute of Literature, the Literary Consultation Service for Young Writers, the Literary Fund of the USSR, the All-Union Bureau for Propagandizing Literature, and the A. A. Fadeev Central House of Writers in Moscow. The Writers’ Union of the USSR encourages writers to strive for high ideological and artistic standards by providing them with diverse forms of assistance. It organizes trips, discussions, and seminars, defends the economic and legal interests of writers, promotes ties with foreign writers, and represents Soviet literature in international writers’ organizations. The union was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1967.


Gorky, M. O literature. Moscow, 1961.
Fadeev, A. Za tridtsat’ let. Moscow, 1957.
Tvorcheskie soiuzy v SSSR: Organizatsionno-pravovye voprosy. Moscow, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.