V. Vernadskyi and V. Korolenko: genetic and spiritual kinship

В. Вернадський і В. Короленко: генетична та духовна спорідненість
10-03-2023 | 14:00:00

      Among the commemorative and jubilee dates of 2023, which are celebrated at the state level, are the 160th anniversary of the birth of academician Volodymyr Vernadskyi (March 12) and the 170th anniversary of the birth of humanist writer Volodymyr Korolenko (July 27). An outstanding scientist with a world name and one of the founders of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (1918) V. Vernadskyi and writer and human rights defender V. Korolenko were third cousins on the paternal side. Their common great-grandfather, Yakiv Korolenko, had a daughter, Kateryna, who is the grandmother of V. Vernadsky, and a son, Opanas, who is the grandfather of Volodymyr Korolenko.

           The first meeting of the third cousins took place in 1877 in St. Petersburg, in the editorial office of the newspaper "Birzhovy Ukazivnyk", the publisher of which was Vernadskyi's father, Ivan Vasyliovych. Twenty-four-year-old Korolenko worked for some time as a proofreader in his relative's printing house, but the brothers did not get closer then. "He didn't pay attention to me," the academician recalled over time, "there was a 10-year age difference between us." The union of kindred souls takes place in Ukraine, in the Poltava region during the First World War. At that time, V. Korolenko already lived and worked in Poltava, and in the summer, usually at his picturesque dacha in Khatky near Shyshak (now Pokrovske village of Shyshak settlement community of Myrhorod district). The Vernadskis also settled near Shyshak on Butova Gora in 1913: at first they rented a house, and then built their own residence (the house has not been preserved).

           In 1918, V. Vernadskyi founded the Society of Nature Lovers at the Poltava Museum of Natural History (now Museum of Local History named after Vasyl Krychevskyi), active members of which were the eldest daughter of V. Korolenko, Sofia, the husband of the younger Natalia, Kostiantyn Lyakhovych, and the sister of the writer's wife, Paraskovia Ivanovska. All of them, together with the head of the family, became for Vernadskyi his "environment" in Poltava. Already at that time, the first president (head) of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, V. Vernadskyi (1918-1921), was well aware of and used many times when necessary as a reference to the source of V. Korolenko's "History of My Contemporary". The writer himself, elected academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Empire, voluntarily renounced this title in 1902, protesting against the gross violation of the institutional independence of the higher scientific institution by the tsarist authorities.

           Both brothers, V. Vernadskyi and V. Korolenko, became the founders of a number of libraries. Vernadskyi is the founder of the most famous custodian of spiritual culture in our country - the library of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, now - The National Library of Ukraine (Kyiv), named after him, and Korolenko was one of the most active developers of the Poltava Public Library, now the Ivan Kotliarevskyi Regional Universal Scientific Library (Poltava).

           So, one and the same Ukrainian-Polish family gave the world two unique personalities who became the glory and pride of Ukraine - academician Volodymyr Vernadskyi and writer-humanist Volodymyr Korolenko.  Korolenko Literary Memorial Museum (1 Korolenko St.) opened the thematic exhibition "Engraved in the Chronicle of Poltava Region", dedicated to the life of the outstanding scientist. In the exhibition hall of the literary part of the museum, the scientist's manuscripts, autograph letters, lifetime editions of his scientific works, materials on perpetuating the memory of V. Vernadskyi, memories about him are presented. This is a joint project of the Literary and Memorial Museum and scientists of the Poltava Museum of Local History named after V. Krychevsky, which will last for a month.

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