Repnina, Varvara

Repnina, Varvara [Репніна, Варвара], b 31 July 1808 in Moscow, d 9 December 1891 in Moscow. Russian princess and writer; daughter of Nikolai Repnin. While growing up in Poltava, she knew Nikolai Gogol, and later she wrote memoirs of him. In the 1840s she lived on her father's estate in Yahotyn, in Poltava gubernia. She fell in love with Taras Shevchenko, who was a guest there in 1843–4. Shevchenko dedicated his Russian poem ‘Trizna’ (The Funeral Feast) to her and painted two portraits of her. Repnina promoted Shevchenko's artistic career, and during his exile she corresponded with him (until forbidden to do so in 1850) and tried to get the authorities to ease his situation. From the early 1850s she lived in Moscow. She depicted her relationship with Shevchenko in an early unfinished novel, ‘Devochka’ (A Girl), in which he is a central figure; excerpts of it were published in 1916. Her memoirs and an article about him appeared in Russkii arkhiv. Mykhailo Vozniak's book about Shevchenko and Repnina appeared in Lviv in 1925.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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