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Varvara Melnikova

Varvara Melnikova-Pushkin (in the first marriage Moshkova) – a daughter of an engineer, general, specialist in railway building – was born on 01. 12. 1855.

In 1875,  V. Melnikova married to lieutenant of Guards Vasily Moshkow. The couple didn‘t live in concord, though, and divorced after a couple of years. After the divorce, V. Melnikova with her little daughter Varvara lived in Saint Petersburg, where in 1880 y she met G. Pushkin, and on 24 October, 1883  they got married.

While living at the Markuchiai patrimony, Varvara Pushkina actively participated in a versatile and charitable activity of the Vilnius Russian society – she was aiding and taking care of poor pupils of the A. Pushkin‘s gymnasium, maintained several orphans and provided their education, took care of gymnasium affairs and was its guardian for many years. In the year 1896, V. Pushkina was elected a guardian of Paplauja‘s IX class  by a meeting of the charitable organisation “Dobrochotnaja kopeika” (Charitable kopeck), in 1897 she was elected a president of the charitable day-time Boarding school for workers and widow‘s children. During the First World War, she was a nurse of the Red Cross organisation. V. Pushkina was an active member of the jubilee committee of commemoration the 100-th A. Pushkin‘s birthday anniversary in Vilnius.

In her leisure, she took an interest in literature, music, art – quite a lot of her drawings and a few paintings have remained. St. Varvara‘s chapel was decorated with her embroidered needle works. A monument for G. Pushkin was made in accordance with her project. There were meetings and various evening parties of intellectuals taking place often at her house, and on June the 6-th of every year – grand celebrations of A. Pushkin‘s birthday anniversaries.

Visiting various events in commemoration of A. Pushkin in Russia and Poland, she always emphasized: „I am the happiest woman in Russia, a rare fate to become A. Pushkin‘s daughter-in law has fallen to my lot“.

Last years of her life, V. Pushkina was earning her living difficultly enough – was renting land of the estate, running into debt, but despite that she was doing her utmost trying piously to save and cherish the poet‘s memory. V. Pushkina died on 11 December, 1935, leaving the Markuchiai estate in a critical financial situation. She was buried in the family cemetery near the St. Varvara chapel.

In the testament executed in 1935,  she wrote that the great poet A. Pushkin’s memory has to be safeguarded in the living house of Markuchiai estate, and that the Markuchiai estate has always to serve culture. 

Following the will of  Varvara Pushkina, the Literary museum of A. Pushkin was established at the central building of the Markuchiai estate in the year 1940.