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Ward Six

About the Story

Ward Six

Russian playwright and short story writer Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) was born in southern Russia. His father, who ran a grocery store, was physically and verbally abusive to his wife and six children. Chekhov worked most of his life as a medical doctor while writing his short stories and plays. In 1890, Chekhov visited the remote Siberian penal colony Sakhalin Island, where he spent three months interviewing convicts and settlers for a census. For the 10,000 people incarcerated on the island, Chekhov witnessed first-hand the horrors of prison life, which included forced prostitution of women, floggings, and the embezzlement of supplies. Profoundly affected by his experiences there, Chekhov felt strongly that the government had a duty to treat the convicts humanely, which inspired him to write “Ward Six” and his famous travelogue The Island: A Journey to Sakhalin. Chekhov is best known for his plays The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard and his short stories “Ward Six” and “The Lady with the Dog.”