Mikhail Bulgakov (1891 - 1940) was born and educated in Kiev where he graduated as a doctor in 1916, but gave up the practice of medicine in 1920 to devote himself to literature. In 1925 he completed the satirical novella The Heart of a Dog, which remained unpublished in the Soviet Union until 1987. This was one of the many defeats he was to suffer at the hands of his censors. By 1930 Bulgakov had become so frustrated by the political atmosphere and the suppression of his works that he wrote to Stalin begging to be allowed to emigrate if he was not to be given the opportunity to make his living as a writer in the USSR. Stalin telephoned him personally and offered to arrange a job for him at the Moscow Arts Theatre instead. In 1938, a year before contracting a fatal illness, he completed his prose masterpiece, The Master and Margarita. He died in 1940. In 1966-7, thanks to the persistance of his widow, the novel made a first, incomplete, appearance in Moskva, and in 1973 appeared in full.