While working as a journalist and clerk Bunin wrote and translated poetry; his first volume of verse was published in 1891. For his translation of H.W. Longfellow's Hiawatha he was awarded a Pushkin prize in 1903 by the Russian Academy, which later elected him an honorary fellow (1909). He also translated Byron's Manfred and Cain. Bunin, whose poetry has a Parnassian ring, had no use for modern avant-garde trends.
Bunin made his name as a short-story writer with such masterpieces as "Gospodin iz San-Frantsisko," the title piece in one of his collections (1916; The Gentleman from San Francisco). His last book of stories, Tyomnye alley (Dark Avenues), was published in 1943. His longer works include Derevnya (1910; The Village), Mitina lyubov (1925; Mitya's Love), Zhizn Arsenyeva ("The Life of Arsenev"), a fictional autobiography (1930; The Well of Days) and its sequel, Lika (1939), and two volumes of memoirs, Okayannye dni (1926; "The Accursed Days") and Vospominaniya (1950; Memories and Portraits). He also wrote books on Tolstoy (Osvobozhdeniye Tolstogo, 1937; "Tolstoy's Liberation") and Chekhov, both of whom he knew personally. The latter book, O Chekhove ("On Chekhov"), remained unfinished and was published posthumously (1955).