Alexander Berkman was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century, famous for both his political activism and his writing.
Berkman was born in Vilna in the Russian Empire (present-day Vilnius, Lithuania) and emigrated to the United States in 1888. He lived in New York City, where he became involved in the anarchist movement. He was the one-time lover and lifelong friend of anarchist Emma Goldman.
In 1892, undertaking an act of propaganda of the deed, Berkman made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate businessman Henry Clay Frick, for which he served 14 years in prison. His experience in prison was the basis for his first book, Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist.