William Gerhardie was born in St. Petersburg in 1895, on the edge of all the twentieth century would become. His childhood home, built by his British parents, the father from a family long cotton brokers there, was “a baroque house, replica of a wing of the Vienna Belvedere, built as a permanent stronghold on a quay overlooking the Neva . . . which accommodated several big industrialists, the Swedish Nobel among them—each with his appropriate mansion next to his works . . . . An unfortunate combination,” since it suggested to the workers in the mills “that they were [working] to enable the owner to live in his mansion . . . which during strikes and revolutions prompted them to hurl stones through the windows . . . . We children would be drawn away . . . while a squadron of Cossacks, summoned by telephone, occupied the mill-yard . . . . So it came about that what had been built as stronghold was taken from us at the end of...

 

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