Janko Lavrin was born on 10 February 1887 in Krupa, Bela Krajina, Slovenia. He left Slovenia in1908 for St Petersburg where he studied the Russian language and Russian literature. He waspublisher and co-editor of the journal Slavyanshiy mir (The Slavonic World) and on hisown account wrote and translated several books. He collaborated on the newspaper Novoyevremya (The New Age) from 1912 until his arrival in England, contributing articlesdealing specifically with Slavonic politics and literature and serving as war correspondent with theSerbian army on its retreat through Albania in 1915-16. His book In the land of eternal war:Albanian sketches was published in Petrograd in 1916 and described his war experiences.
Called back to Petrograd in the summer of 1917, he broke his journey in London, where he chose toremain following the outbreak of revolution in Russia. He was appointed a lecturer in Russian atUniversity College Nottingham in 1918 and became Professor of Slavonic Studies in the 1920-21session. He established many literary and academic contacts in London, contributed to the literaryperiodical The New Age, was appointed to the Board of Slavonic Studies at the University ofLondon and an Honorary Reader at King's College in 1928. In the inter-war years, Lavrin publishedmany books and articles on Russian and European literature. While at Nottingham, he and his wifeNora (n e Fry, 1895-1985), a distinguished artist and book illustrator, made the acquaintance ofJessie Wood (n e Chambers, childhood friend of D.H. Lawrence).
In the early 1930s, with the establishment of a separate Department of Slavonic Studies, Lavrinsupervised Nottingham's first doctoral thesis in his field. In the session 1941-42, he resigned hispost at University College Nottingham to join the Editorial Board of European Broadcasts of the BBCand, during the war, he broadcast regularly to occupied Europe. In 1944-45, he returned toUniversity College as head of the department on a part-time basis and in 1948-49, when the Collegebecame The University of Nottingham, he received an ex-officio Master of Arts. Lavrin retired fromthe University in 1952 but continued as a translator, writer on Russian literature, and remainedactive in the academic field of Slavonic Studies. He died in London on 13 August 1986.
Lavrin's principal works are: Tolstoy: a psycho-critical study (London, 1922), Studiesin European Literature (London 1929), Aspects of Modernism: from Wilde to Pirandello(London, 1935), An Introduction to the Russian Novel (New York and London, 1943),Dostoevsky: a study (New York, 1943), Tolstoy: an approach (London, 1948), FromPushkin to Mayakovsky: a study in the evolution of literature (London, 1948), NickolaiGogol (London, 1951), and Groncharov (Cambridge, 1954).