Yakov Grot (1812–1893) was professor of Russian literature and history at Alexander University in Helsinki, 1841–1853. He became vice-rector of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1889. He published several important academic works on Russian etymology, lexicography, and grammar. He supervised work on the Russian Academic Dictionary. In Helsinki, Grot was a mediator between the two countries. He translated Swedish literature published in Finland and wrote essays about Finnish and Swedish literature, folk poetry, and history. An invaluable source is Grot's correspondence, in three volumes, with the editor of the literary journal Sovremennik Pëtr Pletnëv. Grot received invitations to all the best aristocratic and bourgeois houses in Helsinki to participate in balls, dinners, and amateur performances. He partook in social gatherings and masquerades at the Society House and private houses. His favorite pastime was the theater. Helsinki was the playground of visiting opera and drama companies who performed mostly in Swedish and German. Some famous musicians stopped over in Helsinki on their way to and from Saint Petersburg–Stockholm–Revel. Grot's years in Helsinki coincided with the rise of national culture. Studying Grot's circle of friends and acquaintances, as well as the theater and cultural entertainments, provides deeper insight into social life in the 1840s, as well as Finnish-Russian relations.

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