Konstantin Konstantinovich (pen-name – K.R.), a Grand Duke, Emperor Nicolas's the First grandson, Nicolas's the Second cousin once removed, produced a significant contribution to Russian history and culture at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. A military man, a science leader, a poet – these are the aspects of a Romanov Regnant House representative's extraordinary individuality.
Since childhood the Grand Duke had been traditionally prepared for military service. At first he served in the navy, later he commanded a company in the Izmaylovsky regiment of the Life Guards, where he organized a literary circle “Izmaylovskie dosugi”, with poems recited and literary problems discussed at its meetings. In 1891 Konstantin Konstantinovich became the Preobrazhensky regiment of the Life Guards commander; in 1894 – a major-general already, and since 1907 – an infantery general.
Since May 1889 Konstantin Konstantinovich had been President of the Academy of Sciences. On this post he supported all important initiatives of Russian science permanently. The reorganization of the Anthropology and Ethnography museum, founding the Belle-letters Department in the Academy's structure, with famous writers and poets as honourable academicians, as well as arranging grand-scale exhibitions dedicated to native history and culture, constructing of a new building of the Academy of Sciences Library – this is rather an incomplete list of the deeds realized with his cooperation.
Konstantin Konstantinovich came into Russian literature as K.R. He created the collections of poems issued in Petersburg: “Stikhotvorenia K.R.” (“Verses by K.R.”; 1886), “Novye stikhotvorenia K.R. 1886-1888” (“New verses by K.R.”; 1889), “Tretii sbornik stikhotvoreniy K.R. 1889-1899” (“The third collection of poems by K.R.”; 1900) and “Stikhotvorenia K.R. 1900-1910” (1911). In his poetic creations Konstantin Konstantinovich followed classic standards, A.S. Pushkin being the premier of them. Among his contemporaries he worshiped A.A. Fet and appreciated A.N. Maykov and Ya.P. Polonsky. The basic themes of K.R.'s poetry are love and landscape lyrics. The melodiousness of his poems attracted attention of many composers – P.I. Tchaykovsky, S.V. Rakhmaninov, A.K. Glazunov, Ts.A. Kui, A.T. Grechaninov.
Konstantin Konstantinovich's translation of “Hamlet” by Shakespeare became a significant event in the history of literature, followed by the staging of an amateur performance, in which he played the leading role. The largest original work by the Grand Duke was a miracle-play “Tsar Iudeysky” (1914), with the author in the cast again.
As President of the Academy of Sciences he figured prominently in the organization of A.S. Pushkin's 100 th anniversary festivities, in the foundation and development the Pushkin House. It was the Pushkin House to that Konstantin Konstantinovich bequeathed his literary files and the collection of manuscripts by outstanding figures of Russian and world culture. In November 1915 soon after the early death of K.R. the first part of the manuscripts from Mramorny (Marble) Palace, that belonged to Konstantin Konstantinovich's family, arrived at the Academy of Sciences Library for storage, and in 1923, when the Pushkin House found its first quarters, all the files of the Grand Duke became a property of the future Institute of Russian Literature.
In K.R.'s materials his correspondence with the outstanding figures of Russian culture is of undoubted historic and literary interest. Konstantin Konstantinovich was in earnest about his dear people's letters and after a friend of him died he would ask the late's relatives to return his own letters. That is how he accumulated in his hands the correspondence from both sides, he organized letters chronologically and bound them in separate volumes. In that way his correspondence with P.I. Tchaykovsky, A.A. Fet, I.A. Goncharov, A.N. and L.N. Maykov, Ya.P. Polonsky and N.N. Strakhov was formed. There were also different reviews on his original lyrics and translation and staging of “Hamlet”, bound inside some volumes, which, apart from that, included a large number of autographs belonging to merited figures in Russian culture of the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
Nowadays when the name of a poet K.R. – a Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich – has been rehabilitated in Russian literature, his largest archive and creational manuscripts – verses, variants of the drama “Tsar Iudeysky”, translations from Shakespeare, Shiller, Goethe and others – are highly appreciated.
Within the personal fund of K.R. there remained a part of his collection of outstanding historic figures' autographs. Among those there are 11 by Catherine II, as well as a letter of metropolitan Platon (Levshin) to Emperor Pavel (Paul) I, a poem “A. Pletnevoi” (“Chemu by zhizn' nas ni uchila…”) by F.I. Tutchev, Goethe's letter to Mrs. von Fogt, Shiller's letter to Frederica Julianne Grissbach and so on. The autographs of A.S. Pushkin, which the collection disposes, are simply invaluable.
However, K.R.'s materials had been virtually inaccessible for researchers during a long period of time. It was only in the last decade that literary scholars began to realize the Grand Duke's role in Russian culture. As a result a monograph “Avgusteyshii poet” (SPb., 1995) was written by L.I. Kuzmina, a scholarly text-proceeded volume of K.R.'s epistolary was issued by the Manuscript Department collaborators (K.R. Izbrannaia perepiska. SPb., 1999). Articles and publications concerning K.R. and his archive were printed in “Ezhegodnik Rukopisnogo otdela Pushkinskogo Doma na 1997 god” (“Manuscript Department's year-book”; SPb., 2002), such as: “V.V. Pushkareva-Kotlyarevskaia (According to the material from K.R.'s and N.A. Kotlyarevsky's funds and personal memoirs)” by L.I. Ivanova and “Grand Duke's Konstantin Konstantinovich letters to A.A. Shakhmatov” (publ. by T.G. Ivanova). Some of the materials were published in a magazine “Russkaia literatura” (“Russian literature”), for instance, “Veliky kniaz' Konstantin Konstantinovich and Vera Rudich” (No. 1, 2002; publ. by T.G. Ivanova).