Marina Viktorovna Ledkovsky, born in Berlin, counted the Nabokovs and other old Russian noble families among her relatives (her mother was cousin to Vladimir Nabokov). She attended university during the war years in Berlin, where she married Boris Ledkovsky. The couple emigrated to New York, where her husband became choir director at the Synod Church and held the position of professor of Orthodox liturgical music at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. She began her studies at Columbia University as an undergraduate, and at the same time teaching Latin, French and German in private schools on the Upper East Side. Ledkovsky continued her studies as a graduate student at Columbia, where she defended her dissertation on Turgenev in 1969, which was the basis for her book The Other Turgenev: From Romanticism to Realism (1973). By this time Ledkovsky was already Associate Professor of Russian in the Columbia Slavic department, and would be promoted to full professor with a joint appointment at Barnard College and Columbia in 1979. She would remain at Barnard until her retirement in 1996.
Today many know Marina Ledkovsky not as a Turgenev scholar, but as a pioneering scholar of Russian women’s studies and one of the co-editors of the monumental Dictionary of Russian Women Writers (1994), which received the Heldt Prize for best book in Slavic women’s studies. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Women in Slavic Studies in 1994; a year later she received the AATSEEL award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship. Following her retirement Ledkovsky’s research fell into three categories: Russian women’s studies, the Nabokov family, and Russian Orthodox sacred music and her husband’s legacy.
Mapping the Feminine: Russian Women and Cultural Difference, edited by Hilde Hoogenboom, Catherine Nepomnyashchy and Irina Reyfman, was published in Ledkovsky’s honor (Slavic Publishers, 2008), which includes biographical sketches and appreciations of Ledkovsky. The Marina Ledkovsky Papers are to be found at the Amherst Center for Russian Culture and Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Collections.