Literary Birthday – 29 January – Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov was born 29 January 1860, and died 15 July 1904.

“There should be more sincerity and heart in human relations, more silence and simplicity in our interactions. Be rude when you’re angry, laugh when something is funny, and answer when you’re asked.”

Quotes on Writing

  1. One usually dislikes a play while writing it, but afterwards it grows on one.
  2. Write only of what is important and eternal.
  3. Be sure not to discuss your hero’s state of mind. Make it clear from his actions.
  4. All I wanted was to say honestly to people: ‘Have a look at yourselves and see how bad and dreary your lives are!’ The important thing is that people should realise that, for when they do, they will most certainly create another and better life for themselves.
  5. There is nothing new in art except talent.
  6. Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other.
  7. Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
  8. The task of a writer is not to solve the problem but to state the problem correctly.
  9. My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.
  10. A writer is not a confectioner, a cosmetic dealer, or an entertainer.
  11. He who desires nothing, hopes for nothing, and is afraid of nothing, cannot be an artist.
  12. It’s easier to write about Socrates than about a young woman or a cook.
  13. When describing nature, a writer should seize upon small details, arranging them so that the reader will see an image in his mind after he closes his eyes.
  14. The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.
  15. Wisdom…. comes not from age, but from education and learning.
  16. It is time for writers to admit that nothing in this world makes sense. Only fools and charlatans think they know and understand everything. The stupider they are, the wider they conceive their horizons to be. And if an artist decides to declare that he understands nothing of what he sees — this in itself constitutes a considerable clarity in the realm of thought, and a great step forward.


  1. Anton Chekhov’s Eight Criteria That Define Civilised People
  2. How Chekhov’s Gun Can Help You With Description
  3. Literary Devices For Writers – A MacGuffin And A Gun

Anton Chekhov was a Russian physician, dramatist and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. He defined one of the most enduring and popular literary devices, Chekhov’s Gun. His career as a dramatist produced classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. His works include the popular, The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull, and Uncle Vanya. Chekhov practised as a doctor throughout most of his literary career.

Source for image: V. Chekhovskii, Moscow, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

Please click here for our Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 29th January 2013