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Siberian narratives on archive.org and Google Books

While I’ve been working on my article on narratives of imprisonment and exile, I’ve come across a fair amount of digitized material on the subject. Particularly surprising was the number of works about Siberian exile published in English in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — aside from George Kennan’s wonderful Siberia and the Exile System and Kropotkin’s prison writings, I’d only heard of a couple of the other books I found. Some are travel notes which touch in some way on the exile question (I have excluded books on Siberia which do not appear to address the issue at all), others take Russian prison and exile as their main focus, and some are accounts of exile life by escapees. They represent quite an interesting resource, and could shed some light on British and American views of Russia. I think we tend to assume that our on-going fascination with Russia (most recently apparent in the spy case) is a product of the Cold War. But in fact our appetite for the particular brand of geographical and political exoticism that Siberia represents significantly pre-dates the Soviet period, and it continues even today, as the headlines about BP boss Tony Hayward being sent to Siberia suggest.

Anyway, here are lists of the Russian and English resources I’ve found, in chronological order:


S. V. Maksimov, Sibir’ i katorga (1871)

N. M. Iadrintsev, Russkaia obshchina v tiur’me i ssylke (1872)

V. N. Nikitin, Tiur’ma i ssylka: Istoricheskoe, zakonodatel’noe, administrativnoe i bytovoe polozhenie zakliuchennykh, peresil’nykh, ikh detei i osvobozhdennykh iz pod strazhi, so vremeni vozniknoveniia russkoi tiur’my, do nashikh dnei (1880)

N. M. Iadrintsev, Sibir’ kak koloniia (1882)

D. A. Dril’, Ssylka vo Frantsii i Rossii (1899)

Vlas Doroshevich, Sakhalin (katorga) (1903)

[n. ed], Tiur’ma i ssylka: Obraztsy iz zhizni politicheskikh pretupnikov v Rossii (Leipzig, 1905) [a collection of narratives, including extracts from Kennan and Korolenko]

Petr Kropotkin, Tiur’my, ssylki i katorga v Rossii (1906)

V. Obinskii,Letopis’ russkoi revoliutsii, t. 3, vypusk 1-i: Meri protiv pechata. Tiurma i ssylka. Karatel’nye ekspeditsii. Smertnye kazni (1907)

M. V. Novorusskii, Zapiski Shlisselburzhtsa 1887-1905 (1920)


Sophie Cottin, Elizabeth, or The Exiles of Siberia: A Tale Founded Upon Facts (1815). Also on Google books

Charles Herbert Cottrell, Recollections of Siberia, in the Years 1841 and 1842 (1842). Also on Google books

Ewa Felinska, Revelations of Siberia (1854), vol. 1 and vol. 2. Vol 1 also on Google books

S. S. Hill, Travels in Siberia (1854)

Rufin Piotrowski, My Escape from Siberia (1863)

M. Rufin Piotrowski, The Story of a Siberian Exile (1863)

A. E. Rozen, Russian Conspirators in Siberia: A Personal Narrative (1872)

Henry Lansdell, Through Siberia (1882)

James W. Buel, Russian Nihilism and Exile Life in Siberia (1883)

Petr Kropotkin, In Russian and French Prisons (1887)

James Young SimpsonSidelights on Siberia: some account of the Great Siberian Railroad, the Prisons and Exile System (1898)

George Kennan, Siberia and the Exile System (1891), vol. 1 and vol. 2. Also on Google books: vol. 1 and vol. 2

George Alfred Henty, Condemned as a Nihilist: A Story of Escape from Siberia (1892)

Harry de Windt, Siberia as it is (1892)

Victor Tissot, Escaped from Siberia: The adventure of three distressed fugitives (1894)

Harry de Windt, The New Siberia: Being an account of a visit to the penal island of Sakhalin, and political prison and mines of the Trans-Baikal district, Eastern Siberia (1896)

Jonas Jonsson Stadling, Through Siberia (1901)

Benjamin Douglas Howard, Prisoners of Russia: a personal study of convict life in Sakhalin and Siberia (1902)

Charles Henry Hawes, In the Uttermost East: Being an account of investigations among the natives and Russian convicts of the island of Sakhalin, with notes of travel in Korea, Siberia, and Manchuria (1904)

Lev Deutsch, Sixteen Years in Siberia (1905)

Petr Kropotkin, The Terror in Russia: an appeal to the British nation (1909)

I. P. Youvatshev, The Russian Bastille, or The Schluesselburg Fortress (1909)

Marie Sukloff, The life-story of a Russian Exile: The remarkable experience of a young girl, being an account of her peasant childhood, her girlhood in prison, her exile to Siberia, and her escape from there (1914)

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  1. No worse than English prisons… | Sarah J. Young

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