Born: August 19, 1937
Died: August 17, 1972
With his outstanding plays and short stories, Alexander Vampilov truly became a cult figure in 1970s Russia. In Just ten short years of a literary career, he managed to create his own peculiar realm of the theatrical world. Later, after his untimely death, his plays took the world stage and his name came to be considered among the most notable classic Russian playwrights and theatre figures.
Alexander Valentinovich Vampilov was born in the settlement Kutulik of Alarsky District, the Irkutsk Region, on August 19, 1937. His father Valentin Nikitich Vampilov – a gifted teacher and a bright personality – was arrested soon after the birth of his son and was executed by the Irkutsk NKVD department on March9, 1938. At the same time, Alexander’s maternal grandfather, a former priest, was also executed. The mother of the future dramatist — Anastasia Prokop’evna Vampilovа-Kopylova – was left alone to bring up her four children and continued working as a teacher of Mathematics in Kutulik school. She had a decisive impact on development of Alexander’s personality. Vampilov’s father and grandfather were eventually posthumously publicly rehabilitated in 1957.
As a schoolboy Alexander Vampilov started writing poetry in secret. In 1955, he entered the History and Philology Faculty of the Irkutsk State University, and his first story (then a third-year student), Coincidences, was published under the nickname of A. Sanin in the Irkutsk Universitet newspaper in 1958. The short story also gave name to Alexander Vampilov’s first book published in 1961 – a collection of humorous stories and sketches.
In October 1959, Vampilov, still a five-year student, was employed as a literary contributor of the advanced regional newspaper Soviet Youth. He worked there as a regular contributor, a subeditor and an executive secretary until February 1964. Then in autumn 1965, according to results of the Chita Seminar of Young Writers, he was recommended to the Union of Writers.
In his literary career, Alexander Vampilov wrote about 70 short stories, sketches, essays and satirical articles. In 1962, he wrote the one-act play Twenty Minutes with an Angel. It was followed by the one-act comedy play House, Overlooking the Field in 1963, and his first full-length play – the comedy Farewell in June (1964) – was staged at many theatres throughout Russian, and his fame and acknowledgment grew. Vampilov actually added and changed Farewell in June several times, resulting in four known versions of the play today.
In 1965, the young playwright wrote the comedy The Elder Son in the best traditions of Gogol and Chekhov. Then in 1968, he finished his most bitter drama Duck Hunting about a man who has lost all interest and meaning of life.
In 1971, Vampilov completed his drama Last Summer in Chulimsk (originally titled Valentina). “Together with Vampilov sincerity and kindness came to the theatre” – the writer Valentin Rasputin wrote. Valentina took the stage and everything dirty and mean retreated…”
The same year, the writer wrote the one-act play An Incident with a Paginator and combined with Twenty Minutes with an Angel it made up his last play Provincial Anecdotes.
On August 17, 1972, a day before his 35th birthday, Alexander Vampilov tragically died in an accident: his motor boat turned upside down and he drowned in Baikal Lake. His unfinished work – the vaudeville Peerless Nakonechnikov - was left to lie on his writing desk.
After the death of the young writer, his posthumous fame only grew. His books started to be published, theatres staged his plays (The Elder Son was playing in 44 theatres in Russia at once), and film directors launched production of films of his works.
The Alexander Vampilov Museum was established in Kutulik Settlement, and Theatre of the Young Spectator in Irkutsk was named after him. In 1996, the Alexander Vampilov Foundation was established, and in 2003 his monument was set up in Irkutsk in his honor.