The story was written in Yalta, where Chekhov had moved on his doctor's advice to take advantage of the warmer climate owing to his advancing tuberculosis. It was first published in the December 1899 issue of the magazine Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought) with the subtitle "A Story" ("Rasskaz"). Since then it has been published in numerous collections, and is considered one of Chekhov's best-known stories. The first English translation appeared in 1903.
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