Jane Sullivan in her obituary for Nina Christesen describes her and Clem Christesen as "together with Vance and Nettie Palmer ... probably the most celebrated couple in Australian letters". Her marriage to Clem Christesen formed a long and nurturing partnership and is also the story of the Australian literary magazine Meanjin.
Nina Christesen was born in Russia in the turbulent years before the Russian Revolution. She and her parents were part of the European upheaval of the early half of the 20th Century. They found their way to Brisbane by 1924 where the young Nina Maximov worked to support her parents and studied teaching. In 1940 she began teaching German to a new pupil, Clem Christesen. They married in 1942. In 1945 they moved to Melbourne with Meanjin and Nina Christesen was appointed to a founding lectureship in Russian language and literature at the University of Melbourne. She was instrumental in the establishment of the journal Melbourne Slavonic Studies (now Australian Slavonic and East European Studies), the series Russians in Australia, and the Pushkin literary competition. Nina Christesen thrived on the contact with her students and the writers and contributors to Meanjin, and her family life with her husband and parents. Nina Christesen's story is told jointly with Clem Christesen's in the 1996 biography The Christesen Romance by Judith Armstrong.
Jane Sullivan's obituary From Russia with a Love of Language is a valuable record of Nina's thoughts at the end of her life.