Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Russian author of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Pushkin published his first poem at the age of 15, and was widely recognized by the literary establishment by the time of his graduation from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum.
Pushkin was born into Russian nobility in Moscow. His great-grandfather from his mother’s side, Abram Petrovitch Ganibal, was enslaved and brought over from Africa to Russia where he rose to become an aristocrat. Ganibal was the favored general of Peter the Great, highly proficient in mathematics, engineering, and cryptology and treated as a member of the royal family. Pushkin’s historical fiction “The Blackamoor of Peter the Great” is based on his great-grandfather.
Even though he was considered nobility, Pushkin often faced racism because of his African heritage. His jaded yet proud defense of his ancestry in “My Genealogy” is in response to racial slurs aimed at him by his critics.