Agniya Barto Biography

Agniya Lvovna Barto, (February 17, 1906 Moscow - April 1, 1981 Moscow), was a Russian Soviet poet and children's writer of Jewish origin.

Agniya was born Getel Leybovna Volova to the Jewish family of a Moscow veterinarian named Lev Nikolaevich Volov. She studied at a ballet school. She liked poetry and soon started to write her own, trying to imitate Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Mayakovsky. She read her poetry at the graduation ceremony from the ballet school. Among the guests was the Minister of Education Anatoly Lunacharsky who remarked that instead of becoming a ballerina she should be a professional poet. According to legend, despite the fact that all of Agniya's poetry at that time was about love and revolution, Lunacharsky predicted that she would become a famous children's poet.
Agniya married Italian-Russian electrical engineer and poet Pavel Barto. Some of her children's poems were published under two names: Agniya Barto and Pavel Barto. In 1925 she published her first books: Chinese boy Wan-Lin and Mishka the Petty Thief. Subsequently she published The First of May, 1926 and Brothers, 1928 which received a positive review from Korney Chukovsky. After publishing a book of poetic miniatures for toddlers entitled Toys 1936, she suddenly became one of the most popular children's authors, with millions of published copies.

During World War II she wrote patriotic anti-Nazi poetry, often directly addressed to the leader of the Soviet people, Joseph Stalin. She also worked as a Western Front correspondent for the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. In 1949 she got a Stalin Prize for her book Poetry for Children.

During the 1960s Barto worked in an orphanage that inspired her to write the poem Zvenigorod (written in 1947, first published in 1966). For nine years Agniya was the anchor of the radio program Find a Person, which helped people find family members lost during World War II. During that time she helped to reunite no fewer than a thousand families. She wrote a book about it 1966. In 1977 she published Translations from the Children's Language composed of her translations of poetry written by children of different countries.