The works and words of Maria K. – translator, author, illustrator.
Bianki V. V.
Vitaly Valentinovich Bianki (1894 – 1959) — was a popular Russian children’s writer and a prolific author of books on nature.
Bianki was born in St. Petersburg. His father, Valentin Lvovich Bianki (1857-1920), was an entomologist and curator at the Zoological Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences. His three sons were at home in its halls. During a summer vacation Vitaly Bianchi went on his first forestry trip, and became a passionate outdoorsman. In 1916, he graduated with a Natural Science Degree with a specialization in ornithology from the Mathematics and Physics Department of Petrograd University. In addition, he studied the arts at the St. Petersburg Art Institute to gain some skill at drawing of plants and animals.
Bianki served in the army in 1916 and joined the Socialist-Revolutionary Party in 1917. In 1917 moved to Biysk, where he was forced to join the Kolchak army. He deserted and lived under a false name “Vitaly Belyanin” until the eventual expulsion of the Kolchak regime. His double name Bianki-Belyanin remained on his passport until the end of his life. He worked for the Commission for the Protection of Monuments of Tsarskoye Selo, was arrested and exiled to Siberia in the spring of 1918. Some months later he was transferred to Samara in the Volga Region, where he worked at the “People” newspaper.
After the Soviets came to power, Bianki worked in Biysk in the Department of Education at a regional museum, of which he was a director. He also worked as a school teacher for Comintern III. He was arrested twice in 1921, and in fear of further arrest, he moved his family in 1922 to Petrograd.
Bianki participated in scientific expeditions on the Volga, Altai Krai, the Urals, and Kazakhstan and brought back copious scientific notes, which he described as follows, “They were like a dead weight upon my soul. Like at the Zoological Museum, they were encounters with the extinct animals in the dry record of facts. It was a forest where animals were forever petrified, and birds could neither fly nor thing. Then again, as in childhood, I painfully wanted to find a word that would revive them, magically compel them to come to life.”
In 1923, Bianki began publishing a nature’s calendar in the Leningrad magazine Sparrow (later New Robinson). This publication became a prototype of his later Forest newspapers every year (1927). In those years he became associated with a literary club popular among children’s writers. This included the writers Chukovsky, Zhitkov, and Marshak. Soon after, his story “The Red Sparrow Traveling” was published in the magazine Sparrow. Bianki’s first published book for children was titled “Whose nose is better?” (1923). His voluminous “Forest Newspaper for Every Year” (1st edition, 1928) is a peculiar encyclopedia of forest life and forest inhabitants.
At the end of 1925, Bianki was arrested again on suspicion of subversive activity for an organization that turned out to be non-existent, and sentenced to three years of exile in Uralsk. In the spring of 1928, he was released to return to Leningrad. In November 1932 was arrested again, but was released after three and a half weeks for lack of evidence. In March 1935, he was arrested as an “active member of the armed uprising against Soviet rule” and taken to the Aktobe region, but was released after an appeal by Maxim Gorky’s ex-wife, Ekaterina Peshkova. In 1941, he returned to Leningrad. Because of poor health he was not drafted to serve in the army for World War II, but was evacuated to the Urals. After the war he returned again to Leningrad.
The body of his work consists of over three hundred short stories, fairy tales, stories, and articles, which make up 120 books. One of his students and followers was Nikolai Sladkov, an author of books about nature.
Vitali Bianki died in Leningrad and was buried in the Bogoslovskoe Cemetery.