Anton Chekhov (1860 – 1904) was a Russian playwright and short story writer, considered to be one of the greatest writers of short fiction. While some of his stories may seem dated to a modern reader, many of his innovations altered literature and proved a modernising force – such as the combination of comedy and tragedy in the same piece, and the emphasis on indirect action, taking place off-stage (or outside of the main narrative). Many writers have been inspired by Chekhov, including Tolstoy who was an early admirer (and peer), James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf. Although Hemmingway was a more grudging supporter, claiming that ‘Chekhov wrote about six good stories. But he was an amateur writer.’ Throughout most of his literary career, Chekhov was actually a practising doctor. His death was fictionalised in the short story Errand by Raymond Carver, and Chekhov’s body was famously transported to Moscow in a refrigerated railway car meant for oysters.