William Gerhardie

20th century Anglo-Russian novelist, playwright and short story writer

Portrait of William GerhardieWilliam Gerhardie

William Gerhardie

William Gerhardie (1895-1977) was born William Gerhardi in St. Petersburg. He wouldn’t add the final ’e’ to his last name until 1971. He received his education at Kengsinton College, London and Worcester College, Oxford. He wrote many novels, including Futility (1922), plays, and short stories. He died in 1977.

cover image of the book Futility


Futility is an astounding, funny, and enchanting novel which mixes eccentric Russian sensibilities with eccentric British brains, both richly possessed by its author William Gerhardie (1895-1977). The novel’s narrator, Andrei Andreiech, an Englishman of Russian upbringing, recounts his entanglements with the Bursanov family and his love for Nina, the second of three beautiful sisters. The Revolution destroys the family fortunes, but Nina’s father still pins his hopes on his Northern goldmines, gathering dependents who trail him even to Siberia. Andrei also waits, hoping his love for Nina will bring happiness. It is Gerhardie’s vivacity and lightness of tone in conducting these meaningful yet ludicrous tragedies of disappointment that marks Futility as one of the great neglected novels of the twentieth century.

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