Helena Andreevna Hahn

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Helena Andreevna Fadeev (January 11, 1814 - June 24, 1842) was the mother of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and considered the leading female writer of prose fiction in Russia, making a major contribution to the awareness of women rights in Russia.

Early years and family

Helena Andreevna Fadeev was born on January 11 (or January 23?), 1814, at Rzhisshchev, near Kiev. She was the eldest of four children. She was home-schooled under the guidance of her erudite mother, Helena Fadeev (1789-1860). She attained a high level of proficiency in European languages and knowledge of music and literature that was uncommon for her place of birth and time.[1]

In 1830, at the age of 16, she married Captain Peter Alekseevich Hahn, almost twice her age, and entered into a military environment where cultural pursuits were not prominent. Her marriage was not very happy. They lived in a remote Ukrainian town and she lacked financial comfort, as well as emotional and spiritual fulfillment.

When she was only 17, she gave birth to a daughter, Helena Petrovna Hahn, later known as Helena Blavatsky. She later bore a boy, who was soon to die, another daughter, Vera Petrovna de Zhelihovsky, and a fourth one, Leonid, in 1839.

Literary career

In 1836 they moved to the capital, St. Petersburg, where she met Osip Senkovskii and under his encouragement began to publish her works in his journal Biblioteka dlia chteniia. The first of her tales to appear in print was "Ideal" (1837), under the name of Zeneida R-va.

Helena was probably the most radical writer in a group of women who entered the male bastion of the Russian literary world in 1830s. She not only explored "the woman question" but also played an important role in what lead to the "Great Tradition" of the realist novel.[2]

Later years

In 1837 Helena left St. Petersburg. Her last five years were spent in southern Russia, travelling frequently, either in drab military towns or with her family. At this time she showed an increasingly poor health, until she succumbed to what seems to have been heart disease, on June 24, 1842.


  1. Dictionary of Russian Women Writers edited by Marina Ledkovski et al.
  2. Reference Guide to Russian Literature by Neil Cornwell, Nicole Christian

Further reading