(born Sept. 5, 1817, St. Petersburg, Russia—died Oct. 10, 1875, Krasny Rog) Russian poet, novelist, and dramatist. A distant relative of Leo Tolstoy, he held various court posts. In the 1850s he began to publish comic verse, often satirizing government bureaucracy. Among his popular historical novels is Prince Serebrenni (1862). His dramatic trilogy about the 16th and 17th centuries—The Death of Ivan the Terrible (1866), Tsar Feodor Ioannovich (1868), and Tsar Boris (1870)—is written in blank verse and contains some of Russia's best historical dramatic writing. His lyric poetry includes many love and nature poems, as well as Ioann Damaskin (1859), a paraphrase of St. John of Damascus's prayer for the dead.
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The four distinguished satirical poets used this pseudonym as a collective pen name to publish aphorisms, fables, epigrams, satiric, humorous and nonsense verses in the 1850s—1860s, most notably in the literary magazine "Sovremennik" (The Contemporary).
He worked for the government of the Russian Empire his entire adult life. In 1820, Prutkov entered military service as a Hussar only for the uniform. He worked at the Measuring Office (Пробирная Палата) from 1823 until his death, ending up as its director.