Remembering Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska

On this day (17 August) 148 years ago Liudmyla Starytska was born. She later acquired her husband’s surname and thus is recorded in Ukrainian literary history as Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska, “writer, literary critic, and community activist” (Internet Encyclopaedia of Ukraine).

Book cover of Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska's “Living Grave: A Ukrainian Legend”

Book cover of Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska’s “Living Grave: A Ukrainian Legend”

Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska wrote beautifully. Her Living Grave: A Ukrainian Legend (click here to see a free book preview) reads like a sublimely composed duma performed by a bandura-player. Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska’s productive life was spent in the vortex of literary and artistic circles during the exciting years when a national literary identity was developing in Ukraine. Everything changed dramatically when the soviet communist government began persecuting many thousands of Ukrainians, accusing them of nationalism and anti-soviet activities. Among the victims were Starytska-Cherniakhivska, her family and friends. To say that Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska’s life took a tragic turn is to say so little. The communists executed most of her family. Right up to her death Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska was unaware of the fate of her daughter Veronika. After Veronika’s arrest she had searched the soviet concentration camps and prisons for her. The poor mother never knew that her daughter had been brutally tortured and then was executed.

Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska was herself arrested twice. She died in 1941 at the age of 73 while being transported to her decreed imprisonment and exile in Kazakhstan. Fortunately, the ruthless government never succeeded in obliterating either the memory of Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska or her works, and so, many years after the birth of this extraordinary woman and writer, we celebrate her life and love of literature and can enjoy her works.