ANTON CHEKHOV (1860 - 1904) practiced medicine throughout his adult life, but his work as a short story writer and dramatist proved more lucrative and enduring. Born in Taganrog, Russia, Chekhov began his literary career as a freelance journalist, publishing humorous sketches of contemporary life. In 1887 he won the prestigious Pushkin Prize for At Dusk, a collection of short stories. Success as a playwright eluded him, however, and the 1897 premiere of The Seagull flopped. It was remounted in 1898 at the innovative Moscow Art Theatre, where director Konstantin Stanislavsky’s attention to the psychological realism of Chekhov’s text made the play a critical and popular success. Over the next few years, Moscow Art Theatre produced Chekhov’s other major plays, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.