Anna Nikolayevna Engelgardt (Makarova) (1838-1903)

Anna Nikolaevna, like all participants in the first stage of the women’s movement, comes from a noble family. Her father is a famous lexicographer. She was born in Alexandrova Kostroma Province of the Russian Empire. Her mother dies when she is 6 years old. Her father remains a widower early and sends her to study at the Moscow Catherine Institute / 1845 – 1853 /. In these years Anna Nikolaevna writes a biographical story “Essay on the institutional life in the past” and publishes it under the pseudonym A. Velska[1]. Despite the harsh environment of her childhood at the institute, Anna receives a very good education and becomes especially successful in the Western languages she mastered – English, French, German and Italian. In 1859 she marries Alexander Nikolayevich Engelgardt, with whom she has three children – Mikhail (born in 1861), Vera (1863), and Nikolai (1867).

She works for her husband’s Chemical Magazine and collaborates with the following publishing houses: “Birzhevymi Vedomosti”, “Glas”, “Ruski Svyat”, “Sankpetersburgski Vedomosti”, “Otechestvenni Zapiski”, “Nedelya”, etc., publishing in them feuilletons, political analyzes and translated literary works.

In a letter to her daughter, she describes the state of mind of educated women in the 1960s: “I saw that only family life does not satisfy me… With its complete ignorance of life and people, the lack of any experience – any independent thought. You read contradictory articles, you listen to other people’s thoughts and arguments, but you don’t understand anything: Who is right and who is wrong? Where is the truth? Where does other people’s right over me end? Where does my right begin and end in the clash of opposing interests and desires? What can you do so that you do not offend others and keep your freedom? That’s how many years pass – I try to complete my education by reading serious, good books on science, history, literature, etc., to learn foreign languages… In the end, fate forced me to work for bread, and finally, I developed my worldview, faith, and beliefs… My beliefs, my religion comes down to one thing: work and knowledge.[2]

She becomes one of the founders of the women’s movement in Russia and is particularly interested in the topics of women’s work and women’s education. She takes an active part in the creation of the Women’s Publishing Artel[3].

She is a highly professional translator. In 1860 she begins her translation career with children’s magazines. She also translates works of Emile Zola, Charles Dickens, Guy de Maupassant, Francois Rabelais, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and other classics of Western literature. In addition, Anna Nikolaevna makes a “Complete German-Russian Dictionary” / 1873 – 1876 /.[4] She translates more than 70 literary works as well as scientific works. She works for the “Europe Journal” for more than 25 years and is also the first editor-in-chief of the magazine
“Journal for Foreign Literature”[5].

In 1870-1890 she works on the creation of the Bestuzhev courses, which provides women in Russia with access to education. In 1897 Anna is one of the founders of the first Women’s Medical Institute. She is vice president and librarian at the Russian Women’s Mutual Charity Society. Together with Olga Popova, she initiates the publication of the magazine “Women’s newspaper“[6].

In 1870, Engelgardt and her husband are arrested for participating in a socialist student group at the St. Petersburg Agricultural Institute. Half a month later, Anna is released because there wasn’t sufficient evidence of her involvement. Her husband spends half a year in prison, after which he is expelled from St. Petersburg until his death and sent to their estate in Batishchevo, in the Smolensk region. Anna stays with the children in St. Petersburg[7]. Here is what Elena Stackenschneider, with whom she is in the society of translators, remembers about her: “From the first days when Anna Nikolaevna appeared in St. Petersburg, just married to Engelgardt and he started taking his young and smart wife to acquaintances, we all got used to seeing her always in black. When her husband was evicted, Dostoevsky noticed her in our salon, and he thought she was an extraordinarily good mother and wife. She really was a gentle mother and caring, even too much… And as for her husband, he is to blame for the cooling in their relationship. Nevertheless, she could not follow him in moving to the countryside, as she had to live in the city and raise her children, as well as earn money from translation. But she never broke off her relationship with him and always sent him treats from her modest means. She also lived very modestly[8].

[1] «Заря»[Dawn] — 1870, № 8. — С. 107—149; № 9. — С. 3—65.,

[2] Вж. Мазовецкая (Mazovetskaia), Эстер (Ėster). Анна Энгельгардт Санкт-Петербург II половины XIX века. — Saint Petersburg, Russia: Академический проект, 2001., с. 122 [See Mazovetskaia,Ester. Anna Engelgardt, St. Petersburg II half of the XIX century. – Saint Petersburg, Russia: Academic Project, 2001, p. 122]

[3] Ibid., p. 125.

[4] Юкина, Ирина Игориевна Руският феминизъм като предизвикателство на настоящето /, изд. от Т. А. Мелешко. – СПб.: Алетея, 2007, с 58. [Yukina, Irina Igorievna Russian Feminism as a Challenge of the Present /, ed. by TA Meleshko, p. 58].

[5] Быков П. В. Энгельгардт, Анна Николаевна // Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона : в 86 т. (82 т. и 4 доп.). — СПб., 1890—1907. [Bykov P V Engelgardt, Anna Nikolaevna // Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron: in 86 volumes (82 volumes and 4 additions). – SPb., 1890—1907].

[6] Гришина 3. В. Движение за политическое равноправие женщин в годы I российской революции Вестник МГУ. История. 1982. № 2. С. 35. [Grishina 3. V. Movement for political equality of women during the first Russian revolution Bulletin of Moscow State University. History. 1982. № 2. S. 35].

[7] See Mazovetskaia, Ėster…

[8] Shtakenshneider Diary and Notes…, p. 159