Alexander Herzen (Writer) – Overview, Biography

Name:Alexander Herzen
Occupation: Writer
Birth Day: April 6,
Death Date:January 21, 1870 (1870-01-22) (aged 57)
Paris, France
Age: Aged 57
Birth Place: Moscow,
Zodiac Sign:Taurus

Alexander Herzen

Alexander Herzen was born on April 6, 1812 in Moscow, Russia (57 years old). Alexander Herzen is a Writer, zodiac sign: Taurus. Nationality: Russia. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.

Net Worth 2020

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Family Members

#NameRelationshipNet WorthSalaryAgeOccupation
#1Natalya Zakharina Spouse N/A N/A N/A

Does Alexander Herzen Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Alexander Herzen died on January 21, 1870 (1870-01-22) (aged 57)
Paris, France.


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Biography Timeline


A year later, the family returned to Moscow and stayed there till after Herzen had completed his studies at Moscow University. In 1834, Herzen and his lifelong friend Nikolay Ogarev were arrested and tried for attending a festival where verses by Sokolovsky, that were uncomplimentary to the tsar, were sung. He was found guilty, and in 1835 banished to Vyatka, now Kirov, in north-eastern European Russia. He remained there until 1837, when the tsar’s son, Grand Duke Alexander (who later became become tsar Alexander II), accompanied by the poet Zhukovsky, visited the city and intervened on his behalf. Herzen was allowed to leave Vyatka for Vladimir, where he was appointed editor of the city’s official gazette. In 1837, he eloped with his cousin Natalya Zakharina, secretly marrying her.


In 1839 he was set free and returned to Moscow in 1840, where he met literary critic Vissarion Belinsky, who was strongly influenced by him. Upon arrival, he was appointed as secretary to Count Alexander Stroganov in the ministry of the interior at St Petersburg; but due to complaining about a death caused by a police officer, was sent to Novgorod where he was a state councillor until 1842. In 1846, his father died, leaving him a large inheritance.


His literary career began in 1842 with the publication of an essay, in Russian, on Dilettantism in Science, under the pseudonym of Iskander, the Turkish form of his Christian name. His second work, also in Russian, was his Letters on the Study of Nature (1845–46). In 1847 appeared his novel Who is to blame? This is a story about how the domestic happiness of a young tutor, who marries the unacknowledged daughter of a Russian sensualist of the old type, dull, ignorant and genial, is troubled by a Russian sensualist of the new school, intelligent, accomplished, and callous, with there being no possibility of saying who is most to blame for the tragic ending.


In 1847, Herzen emigrated with his wife, mother and children, to Italy never to return to Russia. From Italy, on hearing of the revolution of 1848, he hastened to Paris and then to Switzerland. He supported the revolutions of 1848, but was bitterly disillusioned with European socialist movements after their failure. Hertzen gained his reputation as a political writer. His assets in Russia were frozen due to his emigration, but Baron Rothschild, with whom his family had a business relationship, negotiated the release of the assets, which were nominally transferred to Rothschild.

Also in 1847 were published in Russian periodicals the stories which were afterwards collected and printed in London in 1854, under the title of Prervannye Razskazy (Interrupted Tales). In 1850 two works appeared, translated from the Russian manuscripts, From Another Shore and Lettres de France et d’Italie. In French also appeared his essay Du Developpement des idées revolutionnaires en Russie, and his Memoirs, which, after being printed in Russian, were translated under the title of Le Monde russe et la Révolution (3 vols., 1860–1862), and were in part translated into English as My Exile to Siberia (2 vols., 1855).


Herzen promoted the ideas of Westernizer Vissarion Belinsky after his death in 1848. He was influenced by Voltaire, Schiller, Saint-Simon, Proudhon, and especially Hegel and Feuerbach. Herzen started as a liberal but increasingly adopted socialism. He left Russia permanently in 1847, but his newsletter Kolokol published in London from 1857 to 1867, was widely read. Herzen combined key ideas of the French Revolution and German idealism. He disliked bourgeois or middle-class values, and sought authenticity among the peasantry. He fought for the emancipation of the Russian serfs, and after that took place in 1861 he escalated his demands regarding constitutional rights, common ownership of land, and government by the people.


Herzen and his wife Natalia had four children together. His mother and one of his sons died in a shipwreck in 1851. His wife carried on an affair with the German poet Georg Herwegh and died from tuberculosis in 1852. That same year, Herzen left Geneva for London, where he settled for many years. He hired Malwida von Meysenbug to educate his daughters. With the publications of his Free Russian Press, which he founded in London in 1853, he tried to influence the situation in Russia and improve the situation of the Russian peasantry he idolized.


Having founded in London in 1853 his Free Russian Press, the fortunes of which he gave an interesting account in a book published (in Russian) in 1863, he published a large number of Russian works, all against the system of government prevailing in Russia. Some of these were essays, such as his Baptized Property (1853), an attack on serfdom; others were periodical publications, the Polyarnaya Zvyezda (or Polar Star), the Kolokol (or Bell), and the Golosa iz Rossii (or Voices from Russia).


For its first three years, the Russian Free Press went on printing without selling a single copy and scarcely able to get a single copy into Russia; so when at last a bookseller bought 10 shillings worth of Baptized Property, the half-sovereign was set aside by the surprised editors in a special place of honor. The death of emperor Nicholas in 1855 led to a complete change. Herzen’s writings, and the magazines he edited, were smuggled wholesale into Russia, and their words resounded throughout the country, and all over Europe. Their influence grew.

The year 1855 gave Herzen reason to be optimistic; Alexander II had ascended the throne and reforms seemed possible. Herzen urged the Tsarist regime ‘Onward, onward’ towards reform in The Polar Star in 1856. Writing in 1857 Herzen became excited by the possibility of social change under Alexander II, “A new life is unmistakably boiling up in Russia, even the government is being carried away by it”. The Bell broke the story that the government was considering serf emancipation in July 1857, adding that the government lacked the ability to resolve the issue. Yet by 1858, full serf emancipation had not been achieved and Herzen grew impatient with reform. By May 1858 The Bell restarted its campaign for the comprehensive emancipation of the serfs. Once the Emancipation reform of 1861 in Russia was achieved, The Bell’s campaign changed to ‘Liberty and Land’, a program that tried to achieve further social change in support of serf rights. Alexander II granted serfs their freedom, the law courts were remodelled, trial by jury was established, and liberty was, to a great extent, conceded to the press.


In 1856 he was joined in London by his old friend Nikolay Ogarev. They worked together on their Russian periodical Kolokol (“Bell”). Soon Herzen began an affair with Ogarev’s wife Natalia Tuchkova, daughter of the war hero general Tuchkov. Tuchkova bore Herzen three more children. Ogarev found a new wife and the friendship between Herzen and Ogarev survived.


He was first cousin to Count Sergei Lvovich Levitsky, considered the patriarch of Russian photography and one of Europe’s most important early photographic pioneers, inventors and innovators. In 1860, Levitsky would immortalize Herzen in a famous photograph.


In 1864, Herzen returned to Geneva and, after some time, went to Paris where he died in 1870 of tuberculosis complications. Originally buried in Paris, his remains were taken to Nice a month later.


However his hopes of acting as a uniting force were ended by the January Uprising of 1863/1864, when the liberal support for Tsarist revenge against the Poles ended Herzen’s link with them; Herzen had pleaded the insurgents’ cause. This breach resulted in a declining readership for The Bell, which ceased publication in 1867. By his death in 1870, Herzen was almost forgotten.


Russian Thinkers (The Hogarth Press, 1978), a collection of Berlin’s essays in which Herzen features, was the inspiration for Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia, a trilogy of plays performed at London’s National Theatre in 2002 and at New York’s Lincoln Center in 2006-2007. Set against the background of the early development of Russian socialist thought, the Revolutions of 1848 and later exile, the plays examine the lives and intellectual development of, among other Russians, the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, the literary critic Vissarion Belinsky, the novelist Ivan Turgenev and Herzen, whose character dominates the plays.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Alexander Herzen is 210 years, 4 months and 9 days old. Alexander Herzen will celebrate 211th birthday on a Thursday 6th of April 2023.

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