Nikolai Gogol Biography

Nikolai Gogol Biography

Nikolai Gogol Biography and Literary Works

Date of Birth 1 April 1809
Birth Place Sorochyntsi, Poltava Governorate, Russian Empire (now Ukraine)
Date of Death 4 March 1852
Cause of Death Starvation (self-imposed)
Burial Place Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, Russia
Age 42
Literary Age/Era 19th Century, Russian Empire
Education Nezhin Gymnasium of Higher Sciences
Love Affair N/A
Matrimonial Life Unmarried
Spouse N/A
Children None
Major Events in Life Moved to St. Petersburg in 1828; became a teacher of history at St. Petersburg University in 1834; traveled through Europe from 1836-1848;
First Publication “Hans Küchelgarten” (1829)
Last Publication “Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends” (1847)
Posthumous Publication Second volume of “Dead Souls” (Unfinished)
Famous Quotation “The longer and more carefully we look at a funny story, the sadder it becomes.”

Nikolai Gogol Biography


Nikolai Gogol was born on April 1, 1809, in Sorochyntsi, a small village in the Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire, now in Ukraine. His family was of Ukrainian Cossack descent, and he grew up in a deeply religious household.

His early education was at the Nezhin Gymnasium of Higher Sciences, where he developed an interest in literature and theater. In 1828, Gogol moved to St. Petersburg, where he initially struggled to find his place.

His first published work, a narrative poem titled “Hans Küchelgarten,” was met with failure, leading him to burn the remaining copies in despair. However, he found success with his collection of short stories, “Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka,” published in 1831.

These stories, based on Ukrainian folklore, brought him immediate fame. Gogol’s career in St. Petersburg included a brief stint as a history teacher at St. Petersburg University, but he soon dedicated himself entirely to writing.

His works during this period include the play “The Government Inspector” (1836), a satirical comedy that critiques the corruption of Russian officials. Despite its success, Gogol faced harsh criticism from some quarters, deeply affected him.


Alexander Pushkin: Pushkin was one of Gogol’s most influential friends and mentors. He encouraged Gogol’s writing and provided inspiration for some of his works, including suggesting the plot for “Dead Souls.”

Vissarion Belinsky: Belinsky, a prominent literary critic, was a close friend and supporter of Gogol. He praised Gogol’s work and helped to promote his literary career, though their relationship became strained due to ideological differences later in life.

Mikhail Pogodin: Pogodin was a historian and writer who became one of Gogol’s close friends in Moscow. He supported Gogol’s literary efforts and provided him with advice and assistance.

Nikolai Prokopovich: Prokopovich was a poet and playwright who was part of Gogol’s literary circle in St. Petersburg. They shared common interests and collaborated on various literary projects.

Mikhail Maksimovich: Maksimovich, a scholar and folklorist, was a friend of Gogol during his early years in Ukraine. Their friendship was based on their shared interest in Ukrainian culture and folklore.

Konstantin Aksakov: Aksakov, a critic and publicist, was part of the Slavophile movement and a friend of Gogol. They shared similar views on Russian culture and literature.

Ivan Panaev: Panaev was a writer and journalist who was part of Gogol’s literary circle in St. Petersburg. They maintained a cordial relationship and often discussed literary matters.

Pavel Annenkov: Annenkov, a literary critic and historian, was a friend and biographer of Gogol. He provided valuable insights into Gogol’s life and work through his writings.


Gogol never married and had no known romantic relationships. His family consisted of his parents and several siblings, but his father died when Gogol was young, which left a lasting impact on him. He remained close to his mother and sisters throughout his life.

Literary Career

Gogol’s literary career is marked by his unique blend of realism, fantasy, and satire. His early success with “Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka” was followed by other notable works such as “Mirgorod” (1835) and “Arabesques” (1835).

These collections included some of his most famous stories, like “Taras Bulba” and “The Overcoat.”One of his most significant works is “Dead Souls” (1842), a novel intended to be the first part of a trilogy.

It tells the story of Chichikov, a man who buys deceased serfs’ names from landowners to use them as collateral for a loan.

The novel is a biting critique of the social and economic conditions in Russia. Although the second part was never completed, “Dead Souls” remains a cornerstone of Russian literature. Gogol’s writing often reflected his views on society and religion.

He was deeply religious, which influenced his later works. His final published book, “Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends” (1847), reflects his conservative views and desire for moral reform in Russia. This work was not well received, leading Gogol to further isolate himself.


In his final years, Gogol became increasingly depressed and delusional. He believed that he was losing his literary talent and burned the manuscript of the second volume of “Dead Souls.”

On February 24, 1852, he took to his bed, refusing all food, and died on March 4, 1852, of self-imposed starvation. Gogol was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

Literary Works

Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka (1831-1832)
Genre: Short Story Collection

Description: This collection of short stories is based on Ukrainian folklore and rural life. It brought Gogol fame and established him as a significant literary figure.

Mirgorod (1835)
Genre: Short Story Collection

Description: A continuation of themes from “Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka,” this collection includes famous stories like “Taras Bulba” and “Viy.”

The Government Inspector (1836)
Genre: Play

Description: This satirical play criticizes the corruption and hypocrisy of Russian officials. It tells the story of a small town that mistakes a lowly clerk for a high-ranking inspector.

Dead Souls (1842)
Genre: Novel

Description: A novel about a man named Chichikov who buys the names of deceased serfs to use them as collateral. It is a critical look at Russian society’s moral and social decay.

The Overcoat (1842)
Genre: Short Story

Description: A short story about a poor government clerk who saves up to buy a new overcoat, only to have it stolen. It highlights the plight of the lower classes and the indifference of society.

Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends (1847)
Genre: Collection of Essays

Description: A collection of letters and essays reflecting Gogol’s conservative views on religion and morality.

These works illustrate Gogol’s keen observation of society, his use of humor and satire, and his deep concern with moral and ethical issues. His unique voice and style have left a lasting mark on Russian and world literature.