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Marina Tsvetaeva is considered one of Russia's greatest 20th-century poets. She was born in Moscow, where her father was a professor of art history and the founder of the Museum of Fine Arts and her mother was a concert pianist. The family travelled abroad frequently for her mother's health and Marina attended schools in Switzerland, Germany, and France and was multi-lingual. She began writing poetry in early childhood and published her first collection of poems, Evening Album, at age 18. In 1912, she married Sergei Yakovlevich Efron, a cadet in the Russian Officers' Academy, with whom she had three children. Marina survived and wrote about the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the civil war and famine that followed. Following the death of her daughter Irina from hunger in 1919, Tsvetaeva left Russia and lived with her family in Berlin, Prague, and Paris. She continued to write though she contracted tuberculosis and struggled with unremitting poverty. Her husband returned to the USSR, and she followed in 1939. Efron was arrested and executed in 1941 and their other daughter Ariadna (Alya) was sent to a forced labor camp. That year, when the German Army invaded the USSR in World War II, Tsvetaeva was evacuated to Yelabuga in Tatarstan with her son. She committed suicide shortly after. Besides poems, she also wrote verse plays and prose pieces.
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