Elena Sergeevna Shilovskaia-Bulgakova (1893-1970)

Elena Sergeevna Nurenberg was born in 1893 in Riga. In 1918 she married Yury Mamontovich Neelov, who was adjutant to army commander Evgeny Alexandrovich Shilovsky (1889-1952). In 1920 the commander won his adjutant's wife and they were married. Shilovsky attained the rank of lieutenant-general in the Red Army. The couple had two children, Evgeny (1921-57) and Sergei (1926-75).

Elena Sergeevna met Mikhail Bulgakov at the house of artists Moiseenko (B. Gnezdnikovskii, 10) Feb. 28, 1929. Years later, she wrote, "I was simply the wife of lieutenant-general Shilovsky, a wonderful, very noble man. It was what they call a happy family: a husband with a high position, two beautiful sons. In general everything was fine. But when I met Bulgakov I knew that this was my fate, in spite of everything, in spite of the incredibly difficult tragedy of separation. It was fast, unusually fast, at any rate for me, love to last my whole life." (1967, S 119-20) First she avoided him, swearing that she wouldn't go out, answer the phone, or receive a single letter from him. A year and a half later, the first time she set foot outside, she ran into Bulgakov, and the first words out of his mouth were "I can't live without you." Shilovsky learned of their affair and argued with him in February of 1931, again demanding they break it off. But in September of the next year, they had again begun to see each other. Shilovsky and Elena Sergeevna divorced in October 1932, and she married Bulgakov the next day!

Bulgakov and Elena Sergeevna

Elena Sergeevna's diaries, which she began in 1933, are a major source of biographical information on Bulgakov (Bulgakov himself stopped keeping a diary after his diaries were confiscated by the OGPU in 1926). Through the 1930s she typed all of his works as he dictated. She fought tirelessly after Bulgakov's death and until her own to preserve and publish his works. It was thanks to her Theatrical Novel, Master and Margarita, a full edition of White Guard, and most of the plays were published in the Soviet Union.