Leo Tolstoy

Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy (1828 - 1910)

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Count Lev Nikolaevich (Leo) "Лев Никола́евич Толсто́й" Tolstoy aka Tolstoi
Born in Yasnaya Polyana, Tula, Russiamap
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married in Russiamap
Descendants descendants
Died in Astapovo, Russiamap
Profile last modified | Created 21 Jun 2015 | Last significant change: 10 Dec 2018
15:17: Nicolas LaPointe edited the Biography for Leo Tolstoy. [Thank Nicolas for this]
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Categories: Writers | Russian Roots | Russian Notables.

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Leo Tolstoy is Notable.

Count Leo Tolstoy was a renowned Russian realist fiction novelist, best known for his works Anna Karenina and War and Peace, and is considered to be one of the great novelists.[1][2]


Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born on 9 September [O.S. 28 August] 1828 at Yasnaya Polyana, Krapivensky district, Tula gubernia, Russia.[3][4][5][2][1][6][7] He was the fourth child in the large noble Tolstoy family of Count Nikolay Tolstoy and Princess Mariya Volkonskaya.[7][3][2]

Leo's parents died when he was young and and his sibling's upbringing and education were left to two aunts, who employed French and German tutors.[7][2] Leo would go on to attend Kazan University, but his teachers found him an unwilling student, so he left in 1847.[2] He ran up gambling debt in the Moscow area and was known to party.[1] By 1851, he had left the area to join the army in the Caucusus with his brother.[1][3] His time in the army influenced his later beliefs in nonviolence.[1][3]

Leo married Sofia Andreyevna Behrs, the daughter of Dr. Andrew Behrs, a court physician to the Tsar's family, on 23 September, 1862.[7][5] The beginning of their relationship started out with deep love, but had moments of extreme ill-will as both were passionate and by the end of their lilves, the marriage was a shambles.[8] They shared even their diaries, using them to talk to each other.[8]

Leo and Sofia had thirteen children.[9]

  1. Count Sergei Lvovich Tolstoy, a composer and ethnomusicologist[1][5]
  2. Countess Tatiana Lvovna Tolstaya, who married Mikhail Sergeevich Sukhotin[1][5]
  3. Count Ilya Lvovich Tolstoy, a writer[1][5]
  4. Count Lev Lvovich Tolstoy, a writer and sculptor[1][5]
  5. Countess Maria Lvovna Tolstaya, who married Nikolai Leonidovich Obolensky[1][5]
  6. Count Pyotr Lvovich Tolstoy, who died as an infant[1][5]
  7. Count Nikolai Lvovich Tolstoy, who died as an infant[1][5]
  8. Countess Varvara Lvovna Tolstaya, who died as an infant[1][5]
  9. Count Andrei Lvovich Tolstoy, who would serve in the Russo-Japanese War
  10. Count Mikhail Lvovich Tolstoy[5]
  11. Count Alexei Lvovich Tolstoy, who died as a young boy[1][5]
  12. Countess Alexandra Lvovna Tolstaya[5]
  13. Count Ivan Lvovich Tolstoy, who died as a young boy[5][1]

The surviving Tolstoy children left Russia following the Russian Revolution and ended up all over the world.[1] Leo once mentioned an illegitimate child with a Tolstoy family servant, as well.[1]

The Writer

Leo started writing while still serving in the Russian Army.[2][3] He served as a second lieutenant in an artillery unit during the Crimean Wars.[1][3] His time largely set the stage for his writings on war, both fictional and nonfictional, as well as his later pacifism.[1][2]

He was influenced by his contemporaries, and admired many other writers, including Dostoevsky.[1] He ended up being considered one of the greatest novelists ever, and certainly one of the best Russian born.[1]

Leo's earliest works were autobiographical.[2] His later fiction work was realist, and portrayed the Russian world he lived in.[1]

Leo's wife, Sofia was vital to his writing career, hand copying manuscripts for him as well managing the business side.[8][1] Despite her interest in his work, he held little in her hobbies.[8] Leo's characters were often inspired by people in Sofia's family, though, as well as his life experiences.[8]

A personal crisis in the 1870s led Leo to study the teachings of Jesus, especially the Sermon the Mount, intensely.[1] This was the beginning of a fervent Christianity, hallmarked by pacifism and anarchism, and a distrust of churches.[1] His nonviolent resistance ideas influenced the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.[1][2] He communicated directly to a young Gandhi about his beliefs.[1][2] He also supported the economic philosophy of Henry George (georgism).[1] His beliefs led to his being excommunicated from the Russian Orthodox Church.[2] He lived the end of his life as a peasant, in according with his belief system, in a hut on the family property while the rest of his family lived in the main house.[3][2]


Leo and Sofia parted ways shortly before his death, following him finding her searching his study for a possible newly rewritten will which would change the family inheritance.[8][2] Count Leo Tolstoy died of heart failure following poor health on 20 November [O.S. 7 November], 1910 at Astapovo (now Lev Tolstoy) Station, Dankovsky district, Ryazan gubernia, Russia, on his way to the Caucasus.[2][3][4][4][5] He was buried on 9 November, 1910 at the Tolstoy home, Yasnaya Polyana.[5][4]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 "Leo Tolstoy," Wikipedia
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Biography.com Editors, "Leo Tolstoy", on Biography.com, A&E Television Networks, accessed 8 June 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Utah, Obituaries from Utah Newspapers, 1850-2005," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVSF-KPH2 : 8 October 2015), Count Lyof Nikolavitch Or Leo Tolstoi, 26 Nov 1910; citing Garland City Globe, The University of Utah. J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVJ1-B2GY : 13 December 2015), Leo Tolstoy, 1910; Burial, Yasnaya Polyana, , Tula Oblast, Russian Federation, Tolstoy Home; citing record ID 1438, Find a Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1438.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 "Tolstoy, Leo Nikolaevich", includes a short bio with hyperlinks to short biographies of father, mother, children. Accessed 8 June 2017
  6. "Ancestors of Leo Tolstoy", interactive Tolstoy website. Accessed 8 June 2017
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 * "Лев Николаевич Толстой р. 28 август 1828 ум. 7 ноябрь 1910" Rudovid Russian Genealogy website
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Bendavid-Val, Leah. ["Love and Hate: A Tolstoy Family Tale" NPR Book Review (Photo excerpts from "Song without Words") 15 Oct 2007
  9. "Descendants of Leo Tolstoy", interactive Tolstoy website. Accessed 8 June 2017


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No known carriers of Leo's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Images: 5
Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy

Leo and Sofia
Leo and Sofia

Tolstoy House
Tolstoy House


Tolstoy by Jan Vilímek
Tolstoy by Jan Vilímek

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On 16 Jun 2017 at 15:58 GMT Linda (Ortland) Larson wrote:

Interesting story here,

As I find myself at 28 degrees from a relation from my mothers side of the family. I am amazed to share that at one time my fathers family rented a townhouse in Annapolis, Maryland to his family. Is this coincidence !!? What a mystery this world is !!!!

Leo is 24 degrees from George Bush, 29 degrees from Rick San Soucie and 9 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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