Friday, June 20, 2002 is the 205th birthday of Wilhelm Kuchelbecker, a brilliant Russian writer. He was born in St Petersburg in 1791 to the family of a Saxony-born noble. The future Decemberist graduated from the Tsarskoe Selo lyceum (near St Petersburg) in 1817. There he made friends with Alexander Pushkin and Anton Delwig. The three young men became the so-called "triple union", in which Kuchelbecker was nicknamed Kyukhlya.
Kuchelbecker's first verses were published during the period of his studies, in 1815. Although the impact of elegiac poetry is evident in his early poems, Kuchelbecker was an active opponent to sentimentalism in the early 1820s.
In 1822, Wilhelm served as an official for special affairs with General Yermolov in the Caucasus. In November 1825, Konstantin Ryleev admitted him to the conspiratorial Northern Society. During the Decemberist uprising against the Tsar on December 14, 1825, Kuchelbecker shot at Great Prince Mikhail and was trying to align the soldiers for a counter-attack. After the uprising had been suppressed he fled abroad, but was detained in Warsaw and sentenced to death. However, the capital punishment was changed with hard labour, which Kuchelbecker was to serve in dreadful northern fortresses.
The poet remained faithful to his ideals even in prison and exile, though motifs of solitude and desperation in his poems intensified. Kuchelbecker died on August 23, 1846.