The idea of writing about Taras Shevchenko first occurred to her when she was in her thirties, during a period spent living in exile in Kazakhstan (1947-1956). Initially, Tulub worked on the screenplay for a film called Kobzar and Yakin, which can be seen as an early prototype for the novel. She was only able to start work on the latter after her return to Kiev in 1956, when she was granted access to archival material and memoirs. She completed the novel in 1962. Tulub's primary goal in the novel was to celebrate Taras Shevchenko's indomitable will and his burning desire to fight for the liberation of the nation, even when he was in exile.
Armed with a wealth of detailed biographical information about Shevchenko, Zinaida Tulub created a thrilling portrait of the poet that is both historically accurate and artistically convincing.
Depicting the first period of Shevchenko's exile in a detailed, comprehensive manner, Zinaida Tulub adheres strictly to the historical timeline, tracing step by step the path that fate had in store for the exiled poet. She doesn't leave out a single detail from Shevchenko's life, adding light and shade to every important moment or turning point along that treacherous path.
Zinaida Tulub was born in Kiev in 1890. She was the granddaughter of an active member of the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood. Tulub graduated from the Advanced Courses for Women (an educational establishment in Kiev) in 1913, but the first publications of her works appeared even earlier than this, in 1910. In the 1920s, she gave lectures for military units and was in charge of the literary section at the Kiev photo committee. She wrote the story At the Crossroads (in Russian, 1916) and two historical novels in Ukrainian: Hunters of Men, which is set in Ukraine in the early 17th century, and On the Boundless Steppe Beyond the Urals (1964), about T. G. Shevchenko's life in exile. During the Soviet era, she switched to writing in Ukrainian. Tulub also wrote poems, plays and screenplays and translated works by various Ukrainian and French writers into Russian.