Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov was born in 1891 in Kiev, today the capital of Ukraine. His father was a professor at the Theological Academy. After finishing high school, Bulgakov entered the Medical School of Kiev University, graduating in 1916. In 1913 he married Tatyana Lappa, who moved with him after graduation to provincial villages, where he practiced medicine. He wrote about his experiences as a doctor in his early works "Notes on Cuffs" and "Notes of a Young Country Doctor."
In 1918 Bulgakov returned to Kiev, which at the end of World War I and the beginning of the Civil War in Russia was fought over between several forces: the Germans, the Ukrainian Nationalists, the Red Army (Bolshevik), and the White Army (Anti-Bolshevik). Bulgakov's brothers enlisted in the White Army and fled with them, eventually landing in Paris. Bulgakov enlisted as a field doctor with the White Army and ended up in the Caucasus, where he gave up medicine and began working as a journalist. He never left Russia, and was never granted a visa to visit his brothers.