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Yuri Gagarin loved reciting poetry

11th April 2011

Yuri Gagarin, the first person to successfully orbit planet Earth, was a huge literature fan and used to recite poetry to his children.

In a rare interview with Gagarin's daughter Elena, the British Council's Andrea Rose uncovered some startling details about the man who won the race into space.

During the interview, which was commissioned by BBC Radio 4's Random Edition Special, Elena said her father loved to talk about books and literature and 'knew a lot of poetry by heart, and he liked to teach us to recite it too'.

She told Rose that 'he liked to read to us in a very loud voice. It was too difficult for us to understand at the time, but he still liked doing it'.

When asked about her father's admiration for French author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince, Elena claimed his favourite book was actually Saint-Exupery's Southern Mail: Night Flight.

She claimed that despite his rapid rise to fame, Gagarin was still a pilot at heart.

Tomorrow will mark the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's successful mission to outer space in the Vostok 1 spacecraft.

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