Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kiev, Ukraine, the oldest son of a professor at a theological seminary. The Bulgakov sons enlisted in the White Army, and in post-Civil War Russia, ended up in Paris, save for Mikhail. Mikhail Bulgakov, who enlisted as a field doctor, ended up in the Caucasus, where he eventually began working as a journalist. Despite his relatively favored status under the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin, Bulgakov was prevented from either emigrating or visiting his brothers in the West.
In 1913 Bulgakov married Tatyana Lappa. In 1916, he graduated from the Medical School of Kiev University. In 1921, he moved with Tatyana to Moscow. Three years later, divorced from his first wife, he married Liubov' Belozerskaia. In 1932, Bulgakov married for the third time, to Elena Shilovskaia.
During the last decade of his life, Bulgakov continued to work on The Master and Margarita, wrote plays, critical works, stories, and made several translations and dramatisations of novels. However, most of his works were consigned to his desk drawer for several decades.
In 1938 he wrote a letter to Stalin requesting permission to emigrate, but he never received a reply.
Bulgakov died from an inherited kidney disorder in 1940 and was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.