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We were met at the station by a comrade living in London in emigration, who had a fine knowledge of English. At first he acted as our guide, as we were in rather a hopeless position by ourselves. We thought we knew the English language, having even translated a whole book (the Webb's) from English into Russian, when we were in Siberia. I learnt English in prison from a self-instructor1, but never heard a single word spoken. When we arrived in London, we found we could not understand a single word, and nobody understood us. We started going to all kinds of meetings. We stood in the front row and carefully studied the orator's mouth. We went fairly often to Hyde Park where speakers addressed the passing crowds of different themes.

We learnt a great deal by listening to spoken English. Afterwards, Vladimir Ilyich found two Englishmen who wanted to exchange lessons and began studying with them. He got to know the language fairly well.

Vladimir Ilyich also studied London. He did not, however, visit the London museums, except the British Museum, where he spent half his time. But there he was attracted not by the museum, but by the richest library in the world.

Ilyich studied living London. He loved to climb to the top of an omnibus and go on long rides about the town. He liked the movement of this big commercial city. The quiet squares, the rich homes with their shining windows and green lawns, and near them the dirty little streets; inhabited by the London working people. In such districts we went on foot, and seeing these striking contrasts in richness and poverty, Ilyich would mutter through clenched teeth and in English: "Two nations!"

(From Reminiscences of V. I. Lenin by N. K. Krupskaya)


1) Did V. I. Lenin and N. K. Krupskaya know English well when they arrived in London?

2) In what way did they begin studying the English language?

3) Why did Lenin like to visit the British Museum?

4) How did Lenin study living London?


1. self-instructor - самоучитель

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