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Agniya Barto

Agniya Barto
BornGitel Leybovna Volova
17 February [O.S. 4 February] 1901
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died1 April 1981(1981-04-01) (aged 80)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Resting placeNovodevichy Cemetery, Moscow

Agniya Lvovna Barto (Russian: А́гния Льво́вна Барто́, IPA: [ˈaɡnʲɪjə ˈlʲvovnə bɐrˈto] ; 17 February [O.S. 4 February] 1901 – 1 April 1981) was a Russian Soviet poet and children's writer of Belarusian Jewish origin.


Agniya was born Gitel Leybovna Volova[1] in Moscow to a Belarusian Jewish family. Her father, Lev Nikolayevich Volov, was a veterinarian, and her mother, Maria (née Blokh), was from Kovno, Lithuania. Agniya 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 Barto's poetry at that time was about love and revolution, Lunacharsky predicted that she would become a famous children's poet.

Agniya married ornithologist and poet Pavel Barto, grandson of an English-born merchant Richard 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 Wang-Li (Китайчонок Ван-Ли) and Mishka the Petty Thief (Мишка-Воришка). Subsequently, she published The First of May (Первое мая), 1926 and Brothers (Братишки), 1928 which received a positive review from Korney Chukovsky. After publishing a book of poetic miniatures for toddlers entitled Toys (Игрушки) in 1936, she suddenly became one of the most popular children's authors, with millions of published copies.

Book cover of Toys, 1936.

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 was awarded the Stalin Prize for her book Poetry for Children.

During the 1960s, Barto worked in an orphanage that inspired her to write the poem Zvenigorod (Звенигород, written in 1947, first published in 1966). For nine years, Barto was the anchor of the radio program Find a Person (Найти человека), 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 in 1966. In 1977, she published Translations from the Children's Language (Переводы с детского) composed of her translations of poetry written by children of different countries. She died in Moscow in 1981.

Script author

She was the author of the script for the children's films Foundling (Подкидыш, 1940), An Elephant and a Rope (Слон и верёвочка) 1945, Alyosha Ptitsyn builds his character (Алёша Птицын вырабатывает характер), 1953, 10,000 Boys (10 000 мальчиков), 1962, Find a Person (Найти человека), 1973.

Awards and other recognition


  1. ^ "Агния Барто: краткая биография". Archived from the original on 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  2. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names (5th ed.). New York: Springer Verlag. p. 186. ISBN 3-540-00238-3.
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Agniya Barto
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