Obituary: Tamara Ivanova

Tamara Vladimorovna Kashrina, writer and social worker: born 17 February 1900; married 1919 Nikolai Nevrev (one daughter; one son by Isaak Babel; marriage dissolved), 1932 Vsevolod Ivanov (died 1963; one son); died Moscow 25 March 1995.

Tamara Ivanova was as a young actress involved with three famous men, Maxim Gorky, Vsevolod Meyerhold and Isaak Babel. But she is better known as an editor of her husband's work and for her memoirs of Babel and of Boris Pasternak.

She was born Tamara Kashrina, into a rich middle-class family. Aged 19, as a pupil of the theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold, she met Gorky - then at the peak of his fame - in Moscow. Gorky, as is known, had had affairs with the actress Maria Androeva and later with Baroness Moura Budberg. Now it emerges that he was a lover of the young Ivanova. It was Gorky who suggested that she, as an educated girl, should work in the Soviet education system.

As Tamara Nevreva (she was briefly married to Nikolai Nevrev, one of her father's business associates, by whom she had a daughter), she became one of the social workers at "Likbez" (Liquidation of Illiteracy), an organisation set up by Lenin's decree in 1919. Her boss was Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya. Two years later Gorky emigrated but Ivanova continued for 10 years organising classes for illiterate adults and schools for children all over Russia. She was one of the close circle who met Gorky on his return from self-exile in 1931 and under his wing in 1932 she set up and ran the women writers' section of the Union of Soviet Writers . She remained in the job until 1962.

In the 1920s she appeared in several of Meyerhold's productions. In 1926 she met the Jewish writer Isaak Babel, and in 1927, the year she had a son, Mikhail, by Babel, she met her future husband Vsevolod Ivanov, when she directed his government-promoted play An Armoured Train 14-69, originally written in 1922, at the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre. Ivanov was a member of the literary group "Serapion Brothers", set up in 1921 and backed by Gorky. They married in 1932.

After Meyerhold's arrest and disappearance in July 1939 all his former pupils and people connected to him kept a low profile and Tamara Ivanova turned to translating. It was she who introduced to Russian readers the French writers Louis Aragon, Elsa Triolet and Jean Cocteau. Shortly after the Soviet Union entered the Second World War in June 1941, when the German armies were advancing towards the capital, she again became engaged in social work, this time with the task of evacuating orphans from Moscow and its suburbs, while her husband was one of the three war correspondents of Izvestia, whose non-journalistic writings she also edited.

In the post-war years she returned to translating and also began writing herself. Her best-known book was about Isaak Babel, who was arrested just before Meyerhold and disappeared in the Gulag (shot) two years later. The book had to wait until the Khrushchev regime to be published. Her recollections of Boris Pasternak, the 1958 Nobel Prize laureate for literature, were published only under Gorbachev, when it was officially recognised that the writer's harassment had been a mistake.

After her husband's death in 1963 she edited his books, plays and diaries. In 1985, she published a memoir, My Contemporaries As I Knew Them, which she had written in the 1970s. The book was very successful and was twice reprinted.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn