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
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 23 Sep 1862 in Russiamap
Descendants descendants
Died in Astapovo, Russiamap
Profile last modified 15 Apr 2020 | Created 21 Jun 2015
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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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Comments: 2

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I've now added Tolstoy's ancestry back to his great-great-grandparents, albeit with three gaps. There's much still be to done, however, especially in following up his Ryurikid ancestors and connecting them to the main lines already on Wikitree.
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 !!!!

posted by Linda (Ortland) Larson

Leo is 26 degrees from Donald Howard, 14 degrees from Julia Howe and 18 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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