Nadezhda Khazina, born to a Russian Jewish family, studied art as a young woman. In 1921, she married poet Osip Mandelstam. After Osip was arrested during Stalin's purges and sent to the Gulag, where he died in 1938, Nadezhda Mandelstam was forced to move about the country constantly, changing jobs, in order to avoid being arrested herself. Having made it her mission in life to preserve and publish her husband's works, she had to memorize them to keep them safe from destruction. Years after Stalin's death, she was permitted to return to Moscow. During the years of her nomadic existence, Nadezhda Mandelstam earned a college degree and taught English in various provincial towns. She originally published her memoirs in the underground press or samizdat, and they were smuggled into the West. She finally received recognition for her own writing when she was in her sixties.