Anton Chekhov's life was short, intense and dominated by battles, both with his dependents and with the tuberculosis that killed him at age forty-four. The traditional image of Chekhov is that of the restrained artist torn between medicine and literature. But Donald Rayfield's biography reveals the life long hidden behind the noble façade. Here is a man capable of both great generosity toward needy peasants and harsh callousness toward lovers and family, a man who craved with equal passion the company of others and the solitude necessary to create his art. Based on information from Chekhov archives throughout Russia, Rayfield's work has been hailed as a ground-breaking examination of the life of a literary master.