Tsvetaeva, Marina Ivanovna. Born 8 October 1892 in Moscow into a comfortable life. Her father was a professor of art history at the University of Moscow, and her mother a pianist. Marina had a half-sister and half-brother from her father's first marriage, and a full sister, Anastasia. When Marina was four years old, her mother noted the child's ability to rhyme words and suggested that she might become a poet. As a child, Tsvetaeva's family traveled extensively abroad, and she attended schools in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. She was an indifferent student in mathematics and science, but excelled in history, literature, and languages. At age 16, she began studies at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Her first collection of poetry, "Evening Album", dealing with themes of her childhood and youth, appeared in 1910. He work attracted the attention of poet and critic Maximillian Voloshin, who befriended her.
She married Sergei Efron in 1912, and they had two daughters, Ariadna (Alya) and Irina. She was ill-disposed to the Russian Revolution of 1917--not surprising, perhaps, because her husband served as an officer in the White Army, while she remained in Moscow. Her anti-Bolshevik sentiments are expressed in "The Swans' Camp", a lyrical chronicle of the Civil War as viewed by the wife of a White Army officer. The "Swans" of the title refer to the volunteers in the White Army. She suffered terribly in Moscow under the famine conditions of the Civil War time. Irina died in 1920 of starvation. In 1922 Tsvetaeva emigrated to Berlin and Prauge, settling eventually in Paris in 1925. Her son, Georgi, was born in 1925.
She published the collections "Verses to Blok" in 1922 and "After Russia" in 1928. She addressed tragical classical themes in "Ariadne" in 1924 and "Phaedra" in 1927.
Tsvetaeva was a passionate woman who had many affairs. She often said that her main passion was to communicate with people, that sexual relationships were necessary because that was the only way to penetrate a person's soul.
In Paris, she was her family's sole source of income. She had a meager pension from Czechoslovakia, and made some other money by her writings. She increasingly turned to prose, which paid better.
In the 1930s, she felt increasingly alienated from emigre society and was severely criticized for writing an admiring letter to Mayakovsky. After this, at least one emigre paper refused to publish any more of her work. Tsvetaeva developed a nostalgia for Russia, as expressed in the poems "Homesick for the Motherland" (1935) and "Motherland" (1936). Meanwhile, her husband and daughter developed Soviet sympathies. Efron actually began to work for the NKVD and was implicated in an assassination. Efron and his daughter returned to the USSR in 1937. Tsvetaeva's last cycle of poems, "Verses to the Czechs" (1938-1939) was a reaction to the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.
In 1939 Tsvetaeva also returned to Moscow with her son. As always, life was difficult for her. Pasternak, with whom she had long maintained a correspondence, found her occasional work as a translator, but most doors were closed to her. Efron and Alya were arrested for espionage. (Alya's fiance was really an NKVD agent sent to spy on the family.) As part of the evacuation of Moscow during World War II, Tsvetaeva and her son were relocated to the remote town of Elabuga in the Tatar Autonomous Republic. On 31 August 1941, forgotten and with only enough money left for one loaf of bread, Tsvetaeva committed suicide by hanging herself.
Of her own poems, Tsvetaeva once said they are "little devils, bursting into the sanctum of dreams and incense."
Pasternak wrote: "The greatest recognition and reevaluation of all awaits Tsvetaeva, the outstanding poet of the twentieth century."