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Sergei Yesenin Museum

(20 Tolstoy; 137 1179; e [email protected].; 09.00-17.00 Mon-Sat)

House museum of Russian lyrical poet Sergei Yesenin (1895-1925), who visited Tashkent and stayed here for a month in May 1921. The current exhibition, which opened in 1999, contains 3,000 manuscripts, photographs and autographs, along with furniture typical of a Tashkent home in the 1920s. Often hosts poetry recitals. Free guided tours are available in Russian.

Yesenin himself was an interesting character. Born to a peasant family in Konstaninovo, he began writing poetry at the age of nine. Having studied first in Moscow and then moved to St Petersburg, he became well-known in Russian literary circles. He published Ritual for the Dead in 1916 before being drafted to fight in World War I. Initially a supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution, he quickly became disillusioned, and some of his subsequent poems, including The Stern October Has Deceived Me, were openly critical of the new regime. Although initially celebrated, his works were later banned by the Kremlin. Only in 1966 were his poems re-published.

Yesenin was a hit with the ladies, and married four times during his short life. He was a tormented soul, however, and though he continued to write, he suffered from alcoholism and mental illness. Following a month's hospitalisation, he cut his wrist, wrote a farewell suicide poem in his own blood, and hanged himself from the heating pipes in his hotel room. He was just 30 years old.