Both classics of Soviet literature signed their works with pseudonyms. The real name and surname of Ilya Ilf is Fainzilberg Ilya Arnoldovich, and Evgeny Petrov is Kataev Evgeny Petrovich. He was the brother of another famous writer - Valentin Petrovich Kataev. The brothers decided that there would be too many Kataevs in literature.
Ilya Ilf was born in 1897, and Evgeny Petrov was born in 1903 (according to other sources, in 1902). Both were born in Odessa, met in 1925, and soon began working together in the Smekhach magazine and the Gudok newspaper.
The plot of the work about the adventures of Ostap Bender was offered to young journalists by Valentin Kataev. He already had a plan for the novel, but there was not enough time to write it. Kataev proposed this option: Ilf and Petrov work on the text, then the "master" makes his own amendments and the book is published with the indication of three authors.
At the end of 1927, Kataev was presented with the first chapter of the novel "The Twelve Chairs". To the surprise of the co-authors, he refused to correct anything, stating that Ilf and Petrov coped themselves. Accordingly, the right of authorship passed to novice writers.
Ilf and Petrov promised to give Kataev a gold cigarette case for the idea, after receiving the fee. The promise was fulfilled. True, Kataev decided that the cigarette case was too small and light.
In addition to the cigarette case, the writers showed another sign of attention to Kataev - all editions of the novel "The Twelve Chairs" bear a note: "Dedicated to Valentin Petrovich Kataev."
According to the recollections of people who knew Ilf and Petrov well, they were completely different in character: Eugene was quick-tempered, and Ilya was too calm. But, this did not interfere with their friendship at all.
In 1929, Ilya Ilf bought himself a camera. And he was so carried away by photography that he never parted with his camera. And the money for the purchase was given to him by Evgeny Petrov, who then ironically lamented: "Before, I had money and a co-author, but now neither one nor the other."
But Evgeny Petrov himself had a different hobby. He collected letter envelopes. Moreover, only from those who wrote personally.
In 1935-1936. the writers traveled to the United States as correspondents for the Pravda newspaper. The result of this trip was the book of essays "One-Story America". It is interesting that they wrote this book separately. Together they drew up only a general plan, distributing separate chapters for each.
The creative union of Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov lasted a little over 10 years. In 1937, Ilya Ilf died of tuberculosis, which he suffered for many years. Evgeny Petrov was a front-line correspondent during the Great Patriotic War. He died tragically in a plane crash on July 2, 1942.
In 1948, the secretariat of the USSR Writers' Union made a decision - to consider the novels "The Twelve Chairs" and "The Golden Calf" slanderous, which can only cause "indignation on the part of Soviet readers." True, the ban on reprinting these books did not last long - until 1956.