Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 in Russia’s Tula Province,Yasnaya Polyana, into an aristocratic family. Regarded as “the greatest living novelist” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Virginia Woolf, Tolstoy’s two seminal works are War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878).
When he was a student of Oriental Languages at the University of Kazan, his teachers thought he was an incapable student who was unwilling to learn. Unsurprisingly,Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana. In 1851, reeling under gambling debts, he decided to accompany his elder brother Nikolay, an army officer, to the Caucasus and join the army. He served as a second lieutenant in the Crimean War (1853-1856). It was during this period that the writer in him was born.
One of his earliest and most notable autobiographical novels was Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852-1856). Novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886) and Hadji Murad (1912) followed. In his last days,Tolstoy was revered as a moral and religious teacher. Even Mahatma Gandhi sought the Grand Old Man’s advice on non-violence and resistance. In 1910,Tolstoy died of heart failure at the railroad station of Astapovo, Russia. He was 82.