Born "Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov" on March 16, 1868, in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia - later renamed in his honor - Maxim Gorky would learn early the harsh lessons of life. He spent his early childhood in Astrakhan where his father worked as a shipping agent, but when the boy was only five years old, his father died, and he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents. This was not a happy time for the young Gorky as conditions were poor and often violent. At the age of eight, the boy's grandfather forced him to quit school and apprenticed him to several tradesmen including a shoemaker and an icon painter. Fortunately, Gorky also worked as a dishwasher on a Volga steamer where a friendly cook taught him to read, and literature soon became his passion.
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