Chekhov's Death - Fact And Fiction

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To mark the 100th anniversary of Anton Chekhov's death on 15th July, Julian Evans turns detective and investigates the blend of fact and fantasy that swirl around his death.

At around 3.00am, on 15th July 1904, in a hotel bedroom in Badenweiler, south Germany, with his wife, the celebrated Moscow Arts Theatre actress Olga Knipper, and a German doctor named Schwöhrer in attendance Chekov died from severe tuberculosis contracted as early as his teens.

His death scene is also one of the great set pieces of literary history: the doctor, called at one in the morning, ordering champagne, Chekhov smiling and saying, 'It's a long time since I drank champagne', draining the glass, then to the doctor, in German, 'Ich sterbe' and falling into death quietly

But there is more, and less, to it than that, and even some doubt about Olga Knipper's truthfulness.

Julian Evans travels to Badenweiler to investigates whether the account of the young student, Leo Rabeneck, who was also present at Chekhov's death holds some new clues about the writer who was addicted to giving the most honest diagnosis of the human condition.