From 1942-1945, Alexander Solzhenitsyn served as a frontline artillery captain in the Soviet Army and was twice decorated for bravery.
In 1945, he was arrested for criticising Stalin in letters to a school friend, even though the Russian leader’s name had been disguised. He received a "mild sentence" of eight years in a labour camp.
Solzhenitsyn's experiences in Stalin's "correctional work camps" provided much material for his future writing. In 1953, he was sentenced to internal exile in southern Kazakhstan.
In 1962, having carefully guarded his manuscripts, he succeeded in having One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich published. It described a single day in the life of a prisoner in a Soviet labour camp.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, but it wasn't until 1974, after he had been deported from the Soviet Union, that he was able to travel to Stockholm to receive the prize.
Stripped of Soviet citizenship, Solzhenitsyn spent a short time in Switzerland before being invited to Stanford University in the US. In 1976, he moved to Cavendish, Vermont, where he continued to write.
Solzhenitsyn's Soviet citizenship was restored in 1990. Four years later, he returned with his wife, Natalia, to an independent Russia where he addressed the state parliament, the Duma.
Once back in Russia, the author's works continued to be critically acclaimed and in 1998 a special celebration was held in Moscow for his 80th birthday.
In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the writer at his Moscow home to award him the State Prize of the Russian Federation for humanitarian achievement.