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News

“…A Real Russian Woman…”

12.10.2016

In 2016, it is the 145th anniversary of Anastasiya Danilovna Sholokhova, the mother of the writer.

Anastasiya Danilovna, nee Chernikova, was born in 1871, in a village of Yasenovka located near Kruzhilin Village. Her forefathers, serf peasants, were known to be bought and taken by landowner Popov to the Don. M.A.Sholokhov gave some information about the ancestry of his mother in his letter to V.P.Minko, a Ukrainian playwright: “…As for my mother, it is impossible to identify the place of residence of her grandfather in Chernigov country. <…> Her grandfather and his young wife were taken to the Don, and now (after all the grandparents died) it is impossible to ascertain anything. As my mother told me, besides my great-grandfather bought by landowner Popov, about 14–16 other families were taken from Chernigov country.”

Anastasiya’s parents worked on the estate of the Popovs. After her father’s death in 1883, the twelve year old Nastya began working first as servant and then as maid. She showed natural intelligence, strong character and diligence.

Anna Zakharovna Popova, a landlady of Anastasiya, married her to an elderly widower Stefan Kuznetsov, a Cossack of the ataman guards of Stanitsa Yelanskaya. However her married life was unhappy. The young woman returned to Yasenovka, where she worked in the Popovs’ house again. Here she got acquainted with Alexander Mikhailovich Sholokhov, who visited the Popovs on trade business. They began dating, then Alexander Mikhailovich took her to Kruzhilin Village, to their house. Their relationship took the form of a civil marriage.

In 1905, Anastasiya Danilovna and Alexander Mikhailovich gave birth to their son Mikhail. The parents of the would-be writer could get married only in 1912, after the death of the legal husband of Anastasiya Danilovna. The wedding ceremony took place in the Intercession Church of Karghin Village (now Stanitsa Karghinskaya).

After her husband’s death in 1925, A.D.Sholokhova lived with her son Mikhail and his family, brought up her grandchildren and did housework. A.A.Karghin, an old-timer of Stanitsa Karghinskaya, remembered: “I always remember Anastasiya Danilovna, Sholokhov’s mother, to be busy with household chores. She was hospitable and very kind. I never left her house without her treat. She knew very well that we were eight orphaned children left alone after our

parents’ death. For the first time I tasted duck with apples and cabbage pies which Anastasiya Danilovna treated me with. I did not see Sholokhov’s mother sad, she would often croon to herself Ukrainian songs…” (Quoted from the book: Г.Рычнев. Ясеновка. Из книги «Рассказы о Шолохове»..1992.С.67).

A.D.Sholokhova died during the Great Patriotic War on July 8, 1942, in Vyoshenskaya, in a bomb attack on the Sholokhovs’ yard. The death of his mother shocked the writer and became for him a great sorrow difficult to survive. He said: “It was a real Russian woman, strong and firm, a person of great moral strength.”

The circumstances of the life and character traits of Sholokhov’s mother were embodied in the plots and in the images of the heroines of his works (in the short story “A Wife of Two Husbands”, in the novel “And Quiet Flows the Don” and others).

Nataliya Kirsanova