Alexei Maximovich Peshkov (28 March 1868 – 18 June 1936), primarily known as Maxim Gorky, was a Russian and Soviet writer, a founder of the Socialist realism literary method and a political activist. Gorky was born in Nizhny Novgorod and became an orphan at the age of eleven. Gorky was brought up by his grandmother. In 1880, at the age of twelve, he ran away from home. After an attempt at suicide in December 1887, he travelled on foot across the Russian Empire for five years, changing jobs and accumulating impressions used later in his writing. As a journalist working for provincial newspapers, he wrote under the pseudonym Jehudiel Khlamida. The name is suggestive of "cloak-and-dagger" by the similarity to the Greek chlamys, "cloak". He began using the pseudonym "Gorky" (from literally "bitter") in 1892, while working in Tiflis for the newspaper The Caucasus. The name reflected his simmering anger about life in Russia and a determination to speak the bitter truth. Gorky's first book Essays and Stories in 1898 enjoyed a sensational success, and his career as a writer began. Gorky wrote incessantly, viewing literature less as an aesthetic practice (though he worked hard on style and form) than as a moral and political act that could change the world. He described the lives of people in the lowest strata and on the margins of society, revealing their hardships, humiliations, and brutalisation, but also their inward spark of humanity. Gorky's reputation grew as a unique literary voice from the bottom strata of society and as a fervent advocate of Russia's social, political, and cultural transformation. By 1899, he was openly associating with the emerging Marxist social-democratic movement, which helped make him a celebrity among both the intelligentsia and the growing numbers of "conscious" workers. At the heart of all his work was a belief in the inherent worth and potential of the human person ('lichnost'). In his writing, he counterposed individuals, aware of their natural dignity, and inspired by energy and will, with people who succumb to the degrading conditions of life around them. Both his writings and his letters reveal a "restless man" (a frequent self-description) struggling to resolve contradictory feelings of faith and scepticism, love of life and disgust at the vulgarity and pettiness of the human world.