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Register of the Ivy Litvinov papers
87075  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ivy Litvinov papers
    Dates: 1911-1997
    Collection number: 87075
    Creator: Ivy Litvinov
    Collection Size: 14 manuscript boxes (5.8 linear feet)
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Abstract: Acquired by the Hoover Institution in 1987, the Ivy Litvinov papers contain information relating to the life of Ivy Litvinov in Great Britain and the Soviet Union, her marriage to the Soviet foreign minister Maxim Litvinov, and British and Russian literature. Also includes papers of her daughter Tatiana Litvinov.
    Physical location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English Russian

    Administrative Information

    Access

    The collection is open for research
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ivy Litvinov papers, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1987

    Accruals

    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Ivy Low, born in London in 1889 of the unlikely union of a Jewish intellectual and the daughter of an Indian army colonel, grew up to be a writer and a rebel. The man she met in 1914 and married two years later was the Bolshevik revolutionary, Maksim Litvinov (born Meyer Genokh Wallakh to Orthodox Jewish parents). He became one of the most important figures in the Soviet Union and was ultimately Stalin's Minister of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to Washington.
    Ivy spent most of her long life in Moscow. She never took to being the Commissar's wife, but devoted herself to literature. Her writing is almost without exception a heightened autobiography, the collection of short stories depicting her daily life and observations.
    The fact that she survived under Stalin is remarkable, although there was an unexplained year when she was virtually in exile in the Urals, separated from her husband and two children.
    The happiest time of her life was when Maxim was ambassador ambassador to the United States, and she and America fell in love with one another. Her dynamic, bohemian personality entranced Americans and she was fêted by artists, film stars, writers and statesmen alike. It is perhaps appropriate that many of her stories were first published in the New Yorker. They were collected in 1971 under the title She Knew She Was Right.
    "She also translated into English her husband's speeches and party tracts and later such Russian classics as Pushkin, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov."*
    "Her final years were spent adding to a disorderly pile of unpublished manuscripts, but never producing the volume of memoirs about high life in the Kremlin that was expected of her. In fact, she always remained something of an outsider, and her fifty-year sojourn in the Soviet Union owed more to personal loyalty to her husband, and later her children, than to sympathy with Communist ideology."*
    Her biographer John Carswell ( The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov, London, Boston, 1983) does attempt to explain why Ivy did not produce more writing over the years, mentioning her interest in her English past over her Russian present, and the obsessive perfectionism that kept her working on successive drafts of the same piece. Inhibiting still was the habit of discretion acquired as a diplomat's wife in a police state.
    * Quotes from a review of Carswell's biography The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov by Anita Grossman, published in Commentary, September, 1984

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution in 1987, the Ivy Litvinov papers contain information relating to the life of Ivy Litvinov in Great Britain and the Soviet Union, her marriage to the Soviet Foreign Minister Maksim Litvinov, and British and Russian literature. Also includes papers of her daughter Tatiana Litvinov.
    The collection is organized into five series: Diaries, Correspondence, Speeches and writings, Miscellany, and Sound recordings.
    The papers include annotations, literary reviews, autobiographical, fictional, and other writings. She wrote the stories at the age of 81. She claimed total recall, saying it didn't matter if an event was recorded four of forty years later. She avoids the need for totally accurate recall by terming her work "sorterbiography" a mixture of fact and fiction.
    Set in Russia and England, the stories range from the absorbing to the ordinary. Switching between countries, she cleverly illustrates how universally people live and relate to one another. The Russian stories are her best. She makes it quite clear the "scientific characteristics of communist economy" did not interest her. Instead, we are given domestic dramas, the concerns of people in small towns, often by the seaside or in country dachas. What makes the stories interesting is not only their perceptiveness about "ordinary" human emotions, but the Stalinist shadow which hangs over them.

    Arrangement

    The collection is organized into 5 series: Diaries, Correspondence, Speeches and writings, Miscellany, and Sound recordings

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in Stanford University's online catalog.

    Subjects

    Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich, 1876-1951
    British literature
    Authors, English – 20th century- Biography
    Soviet Union – Social conditions