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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Russ 107

Marina Tsvetaeva letters to Boris Ottokar Unbegaun


Letters of Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva to her friend Russian linguist Boris Ottokar Unbegaun and his wife Elena Unbegaun.


  • Creation: 1935-1938

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in Russian and German.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


.8 linear feet (1 box)

Personal letters from Marina Tsvetaeva to Boris and Elena Unbegaun. Also includes photographs and drawings by Tsvetaeva's children.

Biographical / Historical

Marina Tsvetaeva [Марина Ивановна Цветаева] (1892-1941) was a major Russian poet. In 1922 she left Russia with her daughter Ariadna Efron [Ариадна Сергеевна Эфрон] to join her husband, a White Army officer Sergei Efron [Сергей Яковлевич Эфрон] in Berlin. In 1937 Tsvetaeva's daughter and husband who had developed Soviet sympathies returned to the Soviet Union. In 1939 Tsvetaeva and her son, Georgii (Mur) Efron [Георгий Сергеевич (Мур) Эфрон], who was born in Europe, followed them. In 1941 her husband was executed and her daughter sentenced to eight years of labor camps. The same year Tsvetaeva and her son were evacuated from Moscow to the city of Yelabuga where she committed suicide on August 31. Her son Georgii enlisted in the Soviet Army and was killed in the war.

Boris Ottokar Unbegaun [Борис Генрихович Унбегаун] (1898-1973) was a Russian linguist. Born in Moscow into a German family, he left Russia after the October Revolution, and studied in Slovenia and at the Sorbonne. After the German occupation of France, he was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp where he remained until the end of World War II. Later, he was a professor at the University of Strasbourg, in Brussels, and at the University of Oxford. In 1965 he became professor of Slavic linguistics at New York University in the United States, where he died in 1973.

Boris Unbegaun met Marina Tsvetaeva in 1935 and the two families became friends. They continued their friendship until Tsvetaeva left France in 1939.


Arranged chronologically.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

2007M-52. Purchased from Gabrielle Tatiana Lorriman with the Amy Lowell trust, and Bayard Livingston Kilgour and Kate Gray Kilgour fund; received: 2008 February 19.


Published in Марина Цветаева в ХХI веке : Цветаевские чтения в Болшеве 2007, 2009 гг. Королев: Дом-музей М. И. Цветаевой в Болшеве [Marina TSvetaeva v XXI veke : TSvetaevskie chteniia v Bolsheve 2007, 2009 gg. Korolev: Dom-muzei M.I. TSvetaevoi v Bolsheve], 2011, pp. 249-288.

Processing Information

Processed by: Irina Klyagin

Tsvetaeva, Marina, 1892-1941. Marina Tsvetaeva letters to Boris Ottokar Unbegaun, 1935-1938: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
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