The tale shares many similarities with Chekhov's personal life. Set in a provincial town in southern Russia, it recalls the author's childhood home of Taganrog. Kleopatra's fatal illness recalls Chekhov's lifelong battle with tuberculosis, and he may have drawn inspiration for Masha's theatrical personality from any one of his actress-lovers. Also, the author's successful use of a first-person narrator underlines his identification with much of the plot. Although not an autobiography, My Life may be read as a fictionalized account of many of Chekhov's own anxieties and experiences.