Krestovskaya M. V.

Maria Vsevolodovna Krestovskaya (1862 – 1910) was a Russian novelist. She was born in St. Petersburg to novelist Vsevolod Vladimirovich Krestovsky and his first wife, Varvara Dmitriyevna. Known for her extraordinary beauty, intelligence, and eloquence, Krestovskaya dreamed of becoming an actress and had some success performing at small, private theaters. She tried her hand at writing in 1886, publishing two essays – Isa and Lyolya – under the joined title Theatrical Backstage and her novel Early Storms in the magazine Russian Messenger. The magazine became the primary publishing venue for her essays and short stories, although, once she achieved some recognition, Krestovskaya was able to publish her novels separately.

Literary critic, E. A. Koltonovskaya, described Krestovskaya’s literary style as follows, “Her pen, for all its feminine agility, is often remarkable for its nearly masculine reticence. She has none of the chaotic flood of thoughtless emotions, which so frequently plagues the works by female writers. She does not like lyrical diversions and allows her characters to speak and act for themselves. Even during the most dramatic scenes, her tone remains restrained. Her formulation of women’s issues gives one the sense of a broad, universal foundation. There is none of the narrowness, exclusiveness, and bias so prevalent in the topic as described by ideological feminists.”

Maria Vsevolodovna was married to industrialist and banker, Eugene Epafroditovich Kartavtsev. The couple resided at his estate in Metsakula, (then Finland), called by Kartavtsev Marioki in honor of his wife. The entire family participated in turning the estate into a beautiful garden, remembered fondly in the journals of their friends.

After Maria Krestovskaya’s untimely death from cancer in 1910, Eugene Epafroditovich commissioned architect, I. A. Fomin, to construct a church next to her grave on the estate. Sadly, the house did not survive the 1917 revolution in Russia – it ended up being disassembled and transported to Finland for a permanent installation there. The church and the adjacent cemetery lasted somewhat longer only to be destroyed during World War II. The plot where the house used to stand is now a national park known as Maria’s Mountain.

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