Memorial for Bulgakov’s sister

September 20, 2009

On September 1st, 2009, the Gymnasium number 1 on Krasniy Prospekt no. 48 in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, inaugurated a memorial for Barbara Afanasyevna Bulgakova, one of the sisters of Mikhail Bulgakov. The inscription reads: "In the school number 42 (now Gymnasium number 1) Barbara Afanasyevna Bulgakova, who became the prototype of one of the main heroines in the novel The White Guard, worked as a teacher."

Barbara Afanasyevna Bulgakova (1895-1954) and her husband Leonid Sergeevich Karum (1888-1968) were indeed prototypes for the heroes Yelena Turbina and Captain Sergey Ivanovich Talberg from the novel The White Guard and the play The days of the Turbins of Mikhail Bulgakov.

Leonid Karum, a former officer in the White Army, who graduated from the Military Academy in St. Petersburg, was arrested in 1929 and transferred to Novosibirsk. Barbara followed him, and found a job as a teacher of music and German in school number 42, while Leonid was a teacher of German and Latin. Barbara led a drama club. She died in 1954 in a psychiatric hospital in Novosibirsk.

Mikhail Bulgakov loved his sister, but Barbara Bulgakova and Leonid Karum had strongly criticized the novel and the play for which they were prototypes. In 1925 it caused a break between the author and his sister. Not only because the Karums felt that especially Leonid was presented very badly, but also because they feared for their lives in the Stalin period.

Victor Koshanenko, the director of the school number 1 in Novosibirsk said that the staff and pupils of the school were asked about the appropriateness of a memorial to Barbara Bulgakova, and there was great unanimity to establish it.

Barbara Afanasjevna Boelgakova

Barbara Afanasjevna Boelgakova

The Boelgakova sisters with Barbara
Afanasyevna on the right

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