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Leo Tolstoy

Considered one of the world’s greatest novelists, Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) was also an accredited essayist and philosopher. He was born Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, 130 miles south of Moscow, the fourth child of Countess Maria Volkonsky (who died before his second birthday) and Count Nicolay Ilyich Tolstoy. 

At the age of 16, Mr. Tolstoy enrolled in the University of Kazaan to study Arabic Literature, but failed to graduate. In the years following, he found solace in writing in his diary and correspondences with family members. 

In the spring of 1851, he seized the opportunity to change his life by moving to the southern region of Russia with his brother, a solider in the White Army. He transformed his past writings and correspondences into fiction. His first novel, Childhood(1852), marked the start of a career as a well-read author. After serving in the military for several years, Mr. Tolstoy met and fell in love with Sofia Andreyevna Behrs, known as Sonya. They married in 1862 and had twelve children. With the unending support of his wife, he threw himself into writing with continuing success. The six volumes of War and Peace were published in 1863. His other works revered worldwide included The Living Corpse, The Power of Darkness, and the unpublished but widely circulated novella Hadji Murad.

The epic novel Anna Karenina, published in serial form from 1873-1877, was written partly as an allusion to his own life. In 1879, he undertook Confession, an autobiographical story about his personal bouts with depression. Mr. Tolstoy also wrote a string of articles furthering his disagreements with the Russian Orthodox Church and government philosophies present in Moscow. After the publication of one of his articles, “Resurrection,” in 1901, he was excommunicated from Russian Orthodox Church. His reputation only grew, and his works were widely read and studied; his followers developed a set of ideologies, “Tolstoyism,” inspired by his beliefs. Upon his death, a simple burial was planned, but thousands attended the ceremony to pay their respects.

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