|Pushkin is considered the founding father of Russian literature as much as Shakespeare is the father of English literature or Goethe is the father of German literature. He was the influential literary model for many generations of Russian authors and, like any conspicuous founding father, contributed lasting works in all of the different genres and various disciplines of poetry, prose, and drama. Pushkin was born into a noble family, although not an especially wealthy one. Something of a prodigy, the 8-year-old Pushkin was already producing verses and parodies of Voltaire. At 13 he entered the lyc?e at Tsarskoe Selo in Moscow, and at 15 wrote "To a Poet Friend," his first published poem. Pushkin graduated in 1817 and, moved with his family to Petersburg, where he was appointed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over the next three years, he published more and more poetry. For a political indiscretion, however--a poem entitled "Ode to Freedom"--he was transferred to southern Russia in 1820. During the next few years his work began to fall under the influence of Byron, which is demonstrated by the themes and issues of his longer works such as "The Captive of the Caucasus" (1822), "The Fountain of Bakhchisaray" (1821-23), and the start of his great novel in prose, EUGENE ONEGIN (1823-1831). In 1824 Pushkin lost his position in the civil service and was banished to the family estate at Mikhailovskoe, where he worked on his historical drama "Boris Godunov" (1831) and saw the first chapter of EUGENE ONEGIN published in 1825. In December of the same year several of Pushkin's close friends were involved in the Decembrist uprising, a crime for which five of them were executed. After sending a personal request to Tsar Nicholas I, Pushkin was pardoned and allowed to return to Petersburg where he resumed a life of drinking, gambling, fornicating, and writing with renewed ferocity. In 1829 Pushkin met 16-year-old Natalya Goncharova, who rejected him severely at first, but who would become his wife in 1831. While stranded on his country estate in Boldino due to a plague quarantine in 1830, Pushkin had most productive single year of work. He completed four of his five plays; worked as an editor on the "Literary Gazette"; finished "Tales of Belkin"; "Mozart & Salieri"; and numerous lyrics; began work on "Little Tragedies;" and all but completed EUGENE ONEGIN. The following year he was married and began to grapple with the demands of a socially prominent lifestyle, an ever-increasing need for money, and a social circle that included Tsar Nicholas himself. Pushkin's debts mounted and, despite being elected to the Russian Academy, he nearly lost his family estate in 1833. However, he managed to travel away from Petersburg to collect material about the Pugachev rebellion of the 1770s for his story "The Captain's Daughter," (1836) and he published his most famous story "The Queen of Spades." In 1836, in the midst of his wife's blatant attachment to guards officer Baron George D'Anth?s, Pushkin received an anonymous "diploma" designating him a member of the "Order of the Cuckolds." This resulted in a challenge to D'Anth?s; a duel was narrowly averted. In January of 1837, when Pushkin's debts reached unpayable levels, he added to his troubles by provoking D'Anth?s by writing an insulting letter to his adoptive father, which, this time, led to a duel. Pushkin was mortally injured on January 27, and died two days later.