Vladimir Nabokov

Life and times of author, plus historical events throughout the course of his life



April 22, 1899

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, to wealthy aristocratic family. Son of Elena Ivanovna and Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov

World War I

1914 - 1918

Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand spurs Europe into all out war. Leads up to the Bolshevik Revolution.

First poetry published in novel form


Nabokov first publishes his writing

Russian Revolution

March 1917 - November 1917

Series of mini revolutions that overtook Russia; most famous one "October Revolution", led by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Russian dynasty overthrown and exiled.

Nabokov family flees Russia for England


Due to overthrow of Russian government and implementation of totalitarian communism government, the Nabokovs flee to England to start anew

Nabokov attends Cambridge

April 1919 - 1922

Initially studied zoology, but switched to Russian and French literature. Graduated with highest honors.

Nabokov joins his family in Berlin


Relocates after school

Murder of Nabokov's father


The elder Nabokov was murdered by two right-wing politicians whilst attempting to shield and protect the politician Pavel Miliukov.

Stalin becomes head of Communist party


First novel, Mary, published in Russian


Marriage to Véra Slonim

April 15, 1925

Great Depression (America)

October 29, 1929 - 1940

Stock market crash not only sends America's economy plummeting, but the rest of the world's as well.

Great Purge begins


Stalin persecutes anybody he sees as a threat

Dmitri is born

May 10, 1934

Nabokov's first and only son.

Anti-Comitern Pact signed

November 25, 1936

Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact, which was directed against the Soviet Union and its international Communist movement

Nabokovs leave Berlin for Paris


Nabokov hated the Nazis. By this point, Hitler was well-recognized as the leader of Germany and had risen to full power. His anti-Semitic ways also offended the Nabokovs, as Vera was Jewish.

WWII (European Theatre)

September 1, 1939 - May 9, 1945

Germany invades Poland, initiating the war. It continues to go on for nearly six more years.

Nabokovs leave Paris for NY


Nabokov pursued his love of butterflies during this time and aided the MNA greatly with his studies (and papers)

Professor of Russian and European literature at Cornell

1948 - 1959

China goes communist

October 1, 1949

People's Republic of China is established

Korean War

1950 - 1953

Part one of US' fight against communism in Asia; ended in stalemate.

Death of Stalin

March 1, 1953

His body wasn't discovered until hours after his death because his advisers were too scared to disturb him!

Khrushchev takes office

September 14, 1953

Lolita first published in France


Rejected by three publishers in N.America

Vietnam War

1955 - 1975

Lolita first published in US


Lolita first published in UK


Nabokov moves back to Europe


Lolita granted Nabokov enough income and fame for him to nicely settle back in Montreux, Switzerland.


July 2, 1977

Nabokov dies of an unknown lung condition.